Palace says sugar shortage ‘artificial’ after warehouse inspections

·Contributor
·2 min read
Hands holding brown cane sugar in mill. The Bureau of Customs has seized about 10,700 metric tons of sugar according to Malacañang on Saturday (Aug 20). (PHOTO: Getty Images)
Hands holding brown cane sugar in mill. The Bureau of Customs seized about 10,700 metric tons of sugar according to Malacañang on Saturday (Aug 20). (PHOTO: Getty Images)

The sugar saga continues as Malacañang declares the country’s alleged sugar shortage "artificial" after the government’s initial inspection of warehouses.

In a statement on Saturday (Aug 20), Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said that officials have discovered thousands of tons of sugar stored in warehouses in Luzon.

“The huge volume of sugar discovered by authorities in the various inspected warehouses in Luzon has led Malacañang to conclude that the sugar shortage is artificial, brought about by the hoarding of sugar traders who want to rake-in huge profits from the sudden spike in sugar prices” Cruz-Angeles said.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) reportedly found a total of at least 214,000 bags of sugar equivalent to 10,700 metric tons (MT) after inspecting sugar warehouses in Caloocan City, Manila, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Batangas, and Davao.

According to the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS), 140,000 bags or 7,000 MT of sugar were found at the Subic Freeport alone while 60,000 bags of refined sugar from Thailand were seized from four warehouses in Guiguinto Bulacan.

Most of the stored sugar found were imported under import permits that were under Sugar Order No. 3 (SO3), issued by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) in February, CIIS said.

SO3, signed by former Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar, SRA administrator Hermenigildo Serafica and SRA board member Ronald Beltran, allowed the importation of 200,000 MT of sugar.

However, Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez in a statement last week said that the SRA is yet to account for 63,000 MT of sugar imported under SO3.

Shortage of premium refined sugar

In a statement on August 16, the country’s top soft drink companies Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, and ARC Refreshments Corporation confirmed that the “industry is facing a shortage of Premium Refined Sugar – a key ingredient in many of our products.”

This prompted the President and self-appointed Agriculture Secretary Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to order warehouse inspections, and consider allowing food processors and drink makers to import sugar under a special permit on top of Marcos’ plan to import 150,000 MT of sugar by October.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom. Follow her on Twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat postings. The views expressed are her own.

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