The establishment of Southern Negros Development Corporation (SONEDCO), answered three (3) major points in the 1970’s, to push the effort of the National Government for an increased sugar production taking advantage of the expanded sugar quota of 2.0 million metric tons a year, to silence the clam or of farmers in the South Negros district for a sugar mill and to generate employment that would basically solve economic problems.
By that time, the production level of sugar in the Philippines was only 1.7 million metric tons, thus, the government had encouraged the construction of additional mills nationwide to cope with the U.S. quota and to serve its own domestic consumption. With this outlook, the Philippines has offered itself as a reliable supplier of sugar and intends to remain as one. All incentives for expansion were made available, an assured market in the United States and with the increase demand everywhere both foreign and domestic, it could not afford to remain stagnant.
Realizing these potentials and conceived with the untiring support of President Ferdinand E. Marcos and Vice-President Fernando Lopez, assisted by the Philippine National Bank (PNB), impelled by the resolute efforts of BIPA (Biscom Planters Association) with the cooperation of Binalbagan Sugar Company (BISCOM), a sugar mill in Negros Occidental, a group of incorporators had decided to put up a new sugar mill, all determined to make its significant contribution not only for the sugar industry but also to the development of the entire company.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS – Philippine National Bank
Chairman of the Board -Juan Ponce Enrile
Vice-President/Chairman -Roberto S. Benedicto
-Ismael M. Reinoso
-Juan F. Trivino
-Arturo M. Diaz
-Cesar M. Virata
-Jose M. Laurel
-Jose Leido, Jr.
OFFICERS – SOUTHERN NEGROS DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
Chairman of the Board -Pedro T. Yulo
Vice-Chairman -Ismael M. Reinoso
President -Rodolfo L. Montilibano
Vice-President -Gabriel F. Villanueva
Treasurer -Enrique M. Yusay
Secretary -Jose M. Montalvo
-Alejandro M. Roces
-Jose M. Gatuslao
-Sixto Orosa III
Construction of the 4000 TCD sugar plant in San Juan, Kabankalan, Negros Occidental began in September 1967. Design installations were formulated by HITACHI Shipbuilding Company of Japan who was also the major suppliers of the machinery’s and equipment for the plant. Mechanical installation were handled by the Atlantic Gulf and Pacific (AG&P), civil/structurals contruction by ABACUS and Solid Builders.
The Boiler installation was undertaken by Amarra/Modina Construction firm while the railroads, right of way/ownership were purchased from BISCOM who owned the existing railroad lines in the area.
Japanese Engineers and Consultants of AG&P supervised the project construction and they stayed for a year for commissioning after the operation started in January 27, 1970. For the first crop, sugar production was 312,000 piculs and operation lasted for 131 days. The Resident Manager then was Mr. Alex L. Montelibano, cousin of the major managing stockholder.
For the next fourteen (14) years of operation at an average of 234 milling days, the sugar production was consistently high averaging 1.150 million piculs annually. It was in 1985 when planters in the district have started diversification because of the erratic price of sugar in the world market. The National Government has been facing its yet worst political and economic problems. Insurgency likewise has infested the area. SONEDCO Management has encouraged green revolution to augment financial difficulties until resources funded by the Philippine National Bank (PNB) were never regained. The Gokongweis purchased the company in September 1988. Major changes especially personnel reorganization took place.
Mr. Eduardo Cang became the Operations Manager with SONEDCO operating under the management of URSUMCO’s Vice-President Mr. Policarpio B. Pau Jr. Several projects, revisions and improvement in the Factory and Transportation areas were initiated but the production barely fared well until 1994 when Management hired Thailand-based SUTECH incorporated to upgrade the Factory to 5000 TCD knowing fully well SONEDCO has lost its grip on competitiveness with the neighboring mills.
Vital installations were revised and the Diffuser was deleted shifting the operation for the first time to conventional milling. It was an improved performance then with the production output saw an upscale trend. It registered top positions in the Sugar Regulatory Administration survey in 1996 on Milling Extraction and Boiling House Recovery. The last three (3) crop years until 2001 however, was marred by the exodus of dissatisfied planters. They wanted a 70%-30% sharing as an improvement to the existing 65%-35% scheme with SONEDCO. The cane supply dropped tremendously that Management decided to partially close the railroad network. Crop year 2001-2002 was a survival campaign. Efforts to win back our Planters were extensive. Their share was improved with 5% additional trucking and cane car hauling allowances boast highest in the area. The Factory was also prepared to intensify improvement at all levels of operational parameters.
To date, so far all potentials of productive ends are happening. It might not surpass all expectations but it slowly brings back the glory that was once was with SONEDCO.
Currently, SONEDCO is undergoing expansion to further increase its milling capacity from 5,000 to 9,000 TCD and the 750 Tons/Day Sugar Refinery Plant.