A court in Negros Occidental has ordered the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to halt its plan to import 200,000 metric tons of sugar, intended to increase a projected shortfall and stabilize prices.
In a two-page decision dated February 11, 2022, Section 73 of the Sagay City Regional Trial Court, Negros Occidental, issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) “directing and restraining” the SRA from carrying out the SRA Sugar Oder No. 3, series of 2021-22.
“This temporary ex-parte restraining order will be effective for a period of 20 days from its issuance,” reads the order, written by Executive Judge Reginald Fuentebella.
Sugar Ordinance No. 3, Series 2021-2022, authorizes the import of 200,000 metric tons of standard and bottling grade refined sugar “in view of the shortfall in the final balance of refined sugar”.
The SRA issued the order after assessing damage caused by Typhoon Odette to sugar cane crops, sugar stocks in warehouses, and facilities and equipment at sugar mills and refineries in major sugar districts.
Due to typhoon damage, the agency recalibrated its pre-final raw sugar production estimate to 2.072 million metric tons, down from the pre-final harvest estimate of 2.099 million. tons before Odette’s assault.
The SRA said the import of 200,000 tonnes of refined sugar will cover the supply shortfall and “leave the country with sufficient buffer stock to hold out until the start of the next milling season”.
The Negros Occidental court, however, ruled in favor of the Rural Sugar Planters Association, Inc., which asserted that the importation in question “will result in grave injustice, untold irreparable harm, loss and damage to the sugar industry which was devastated by Typhoon Odette as this will have a negative impact on the price of sugar.
Asked for comment, SRA administrator Hermenigildo Serafica said that “subject to the opinion of the Office of the Government Legal Adviser on the pending case for the issuance of an injunction, the SRA will suspend any statement or official act relating to the importation and will yield to the order of the court, in accordance with the rule of sub judice”.
“This is without prejudice to any legal action the SRA may subsequently take. Stakeholders are continually assured that the SRA complies with its mandate under applicable laws, rules and regulations. Its objective is to meet the needs of the sugarcane industry for all relevant sectors under its authority and jurisdiction,” Serafica said. —BM, GMA News