By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy
“Do not blame government because this is a free market…We are a member of the World Trade Organization,” President Rodrigo Duterte told owners of sugar mills and plantations Thursday night.
As a member of the WTO, the Philippines can export to other countries and they can import to us, the president, said in his speech during the decommissioning of the Rebolusyonaryo ng Partidong Manggagawa-Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade-Tabara-Paduano Group at Camp General Macario B. Peralta Jr. in Jamindan, Capiz.
The president said the sugarcane industry was strong in the past because it was given preferential treatment by the United States through the US sugar quota, but now it is dead because sugar can be derived from other sources.
You can get sugar from corn and there’s a plant in South America where you can derive it from leaves, he said.
With a lot of competition, the sugar industry has “dived”, he said, but he is just the same instructing the agrarian reform secretary to complete land reform and to also distribute government land to the people before he steps down.
“The hacienderos, for about 200 plus years you were lording it over the people. You were given thousands upon thousands of sugarcane land and sugar at the time was expensive,” he said.
So the hacienderos would buy the latest model of Mercedes Benz cars, houses and send their children to study in America, he said.
“The Bible says there is always a time for everything, There was a time when you were wallowing perhaps in money, but now you should get along with others. You ain’t that rich anymore because there a big slump in sugar,” he said.
He said he will not honor the purchase back by landowners of land given to agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Duterte said he will side with the land reform beneficiaries because the landowners know it is wrong to do that.