Senator Francis Escudero and Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) yesterday said they are still pushing for the passage of the Sugarcane Industry Development Act before the 15th Congress adjourns in February.
The bill is geared towards revitalizing and strengthening the sugarcane industry through diversification, development and financing programs to cushion, if not counter, the possible destabilization effects of the lifting of tariffs on imported sugar by 2015.
Benitez, who is the author of the bill in the House, said his technical working group met with Department of Finance representatives to discuss the sourcing of funds for the bill.
Benitez said the bill is with the House Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong (Neg. Or., 1st District), who has calendared it for hearing when the House resumes work on January 21.
He is hopeful the bill will pass on third and final reading in the House before Congress adjourns next month, he said.
Escudero said his counterpart bill to Benitez's Sugarcane Act has passed second reading in the Senate.
It is pending before the Agriculture Committee, chaired by Senator Francis Pangilinan.
“It is a priority bill we will try to push for passage during the three-week session starting January 21,” he said.
He cannot guarantee it will be passed, but he will try to do his best, Escudero also said.
Senatorial candidate Grace Poe, whose mother, Susan Roces, is from Negros Occidental, also promised to support the concerns of the sugar industry.
At the same time, she stressed the need for diversification and organic farming to further boost the local economy, on top of the production of sugar.*CPG