THE Sagay City, Negros Occidental Regional Trial Court has issued a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) against the importation of 200,000 metric tons of refined sugar provided in Sugar Order 3 of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).
The ruling stemmed from the civil case for injunction, with prayer for the issuance of TRO, filed by the Rural Sugar Planter’s Association Inc. (RSPAI) represented by its president Joseph Edgar “GJ” Sarrosa against the SRA represented by Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica.
The RSPAI is a member association of the United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED).
In his two-page order dated February 11, Executive Judge Reginald Fuentebella said the sugar planters groups had “shown to the satisfaction of the court that grave and irreparable injury will result from the implementation of SRA Sugar Order No. 3.”
“The gravity of the possible injury cannot be underestimated as the sugar industry directly and indirectly impacts the lives of around three million Filipinos,” Judge Fuentebella said.
Sarrosa, together with fellow directors Lawyer Edgardo Acuña, Paul Azcona, and Andre Corro, expressed the Federation’s dismay over the untimely sugar importation set to arrive starting March 1.
The group said the imported refined sugar will mainly benefit industrial users.
“We led the filing of the TRO upon the urging of our planter-members who expected that Sugar Order No. 3 will lead to depressed sugar prices,” Sarrosa said.
Sarrosa added that UNIFED, which has more than 30,000 member-planters nationwide, is not against sugar importation, but it should be “calibrated, scheduled and fair to all,” and should not be implemented at the height of the milling season.
The sugar milling season usually starts in September and ends in May.
Negros Occidental, the Philippines’ top sugarcane-producing province, generates about 60 percent of the country’s sugar output.
The hearing on the motion for the writ of the preliminary injunction will be held via a video conference at 9 a.m. on February 24.