Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
First Regular Session
HOUSE RESOLUTION NO. 908
INTRODUCED BY ANAKPAWIS PARTY-LIST REPRESENTATIVE
ARIEL B. CASILAO
CARLOS ISAGANI T. ZARATE, EMMI A. DE JESUS, ANTONIO L. TINIO,
ARLENE D. BROSAS, FRANCE L. CASTRO, AND SARAH JANE I. ELAGO
DIRECTING THE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE AND FOOD AND COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT TO CONDUCT A JOINT INQUIRY, IN AID OF LEGISLATION, ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SOCIAL AMELIORATION PROGRAM (SAP) IN THE SUGAR INDUSTRY INCLUDING AN ACCOUNTING OF ITS FUND AND THE EXTENT OF BENEFITS THAT REDOUNDED TO THE AGRICULTURAL SUGAR WORKERS
WHEREAS, the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) in the sugar industry was implemented by the government in 1974 for the benefit of agricultural sugar workers (ASWs) and sugar mill workers. The fund for SAP is divided into two (2) parts as provided in Republic Act No. 6982. Eighty percent (80%) of the fund is allotted for Cash Bonus Fund (CBF) and is to be given to agricultural sugar workers and sugar mill workers. The remaining twenty percent (20%) is for Socio-Economic Program Related Fund (SEPRF) which is allotted for socio-economic projects, death and maternity benefits and for management of this fund;
WHEREAS, based on Republic Act No. 6982 otherwise known as “An Act Strengthening the Social Amelioration Program in the Sugar Industry, Providing the Mechanics for its Implementation, and For Other Purposes”, the amount imposed on the gross production of sugar shall be primarily used to augment the income of sugar workers, and to finance social and economic programs to improve their livelihood and well-being;
WHEREAS, Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), national progressive center of unions, federations, and organizations of agricultural workers in the Philippines, alleged that since the implementation of Social Amelioration Program in the sugar industry, only few agricultural workers benefitted from the fund and the benefits received consist of small amounts. Further, the fund only became a milking cow for planters, millers and the government;
WHEREAS, the aforesaid group also stated that they received reports from different local agricultural workers’ organizations that some millers/planters do not distribute cash bonuses to agricultural workers. Benefits under the Socio-Economic Program Related Fund (SEPRF) like death and maternity benefits, among others, were not also given to concerned agricultural workers;
WHEREAS, in a dialogue with Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Tubuhan (PAMATU) in Nasugbu, Batangas, a BWSC official admitted that they cannot verify if the Cash Bonus Fund (CBF) were really given to agricultural workers because of their limited personnel;
WHEREAS, according to the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC,) as of 2nd quarter of 2016 or from 1991–2016, the unliquidated cash bonuses ballooned to P606 million;
WHEREAS, it is also alleged that maternity and death benefits under the program were not availed by agricultural sugar workers because of the difficulty in complying with the requirements. From 1992–2010, only fifty-five percent (55%) of the budget for death benefits and eighty percent (80%) for maternity benefits were distributed;
WHEREAS, it is also reported that socio-economic projects were being monopolized by millers and planters associations such as the Sugar Industry Foundation Inc. (SIFI), National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), and United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED), among others;
WHEREAS, an investigation on the anomalies made by the Sugar Industry Foundation, Inc. (SIFI) should be made, and review its mandate in being the sole receiver of funds from the SEPRF;
WHEREAS, the BWSC should report the results of cases it filed against millers and planters for violation of RA6982;
WHEREAS, based on a report by the Commission on Audit (COA), as of December 31, 2015, P 285.53 of the Socio-Economic Program Related Fund (SEPRF) have been invested in treasury bills and other investment and marketable securities;
WHEREAS, the Commission on Audit (COA) also discovered, among others, that with regard to Cash Bonus Fund (CBF):
a. There is no proof of distribution of Cash Bonus Funds (CBFs) to the workers. Apart from this, the increase in the amount of unreleased/unclaimed CBF and undistributed CBF is an indication of the delay of its distribution; and
b. The collection and distribution of the Social Amelioration Program Fund under Republic Act No. 809 for 16 crop years starting from 1992-1993 up to 2007-2008 that totals to P1.26 billion is not recorded in the books of the BRW-SAP due to the failure of the management of BRW-SAP to issue Department Order on the General Guidelines for the Implementation of Section 9 of Republic Act No. 809.
WHEREAS, the Commission on Audit (COA) also discovered, among others, that with regard to Socio-Economic Project Related Fund (SEPRF):
a. The twenty percent (20%) tax allotted for the Socio-Economic Project Related Fund (SEPRF) was reported based on bank statement instead of the Report on Sugar Production, Withdrawals, Lien Collections and Remittances (RSPWLCR). Because of this, there is no certainty on the total amount of what was remitted and recorded in the book of accounts of the BWSC-SAP; and
b. In 2008, the construction of the Annex Building of the Sugar Workers Livelihood Center (SWLC) in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental and the Sugar Workers Livelihood Center (SWLC) in Malaybalay, Bukidnon were delayed by six (6) years.
WHEREAS, reports that many agricultural sugar workers failed to enjoy the benefits promised by the program is indeed alarming. It seems that a thorough scrutiny of the implementation of the program is necessary to determine the causes that led to the deprivation of benefits to the agricultural sugar workers and who really are benefiting from the program at the expense of the agricultural sugar workers.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that the Committee on Agriculture and Food and Committee on Labor and Employment conduct a joint inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program in the sugar industry including an accounting of its fund and the extent of benefits that redounded to the agricultural sugar workers.