Amid controversy, Philippines to import 150,000 metric tons of sugar by October

·2 min read
A man repacks sugar in packets on a table at a public market in Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines August 27, 2008. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo
A man repacks sugar in packets on a table at a public market in Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines August 27, 2008. REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

As local supply of sugar dwindles due to weather disturbances and rising costs of input, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that the Philippines might import 150,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar by October.

This is only half of the 300,000 MT earlier approved by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), which is now under investigation due to alleged corruption.

Pero kakaunti lang hindi kasing dami ng kanilang sinasabi dati na 300,000 tons. Siguro ay malaki na yung 150,000 tons para sa buong taon,” Marcos, who is also self-appointed Department of Agriculture (DA) chief, said in a vlog released Sunday (Aug 14).

(But only less than 300,000, unlike what they said before. Maybe 150,000 tons for the whole year is enough if not more.)

Maaari baka bandang Oktubre, yung supply na nandito sa Pilipinas ay paubos na baka sakali ay kailangan natin mag import,” Marcos said.

(Maybe by October, our supply in the Philippines may dwindle, maybe we need to import.)

However, Marcos clarified that there is currently no sugar supply shortage in the country. He said that importation should be kept to a minimum.

Nakita ko naman may sapat na supply dito na nandito na sa Pilipinas. So sabi ko, bakit di natin unahin ‘yan dahil ‘yan ay galing dito sa Pilipinas at meron na rin tayong na-import noon na naka-imbentaryo ngayon. So bago tayo mag-import ng panibagong asukal dapat sabi ko ubusin muna natin ang supply dito,” he said.

(I saw that there is enough supply in the Philippines. So, I said, why don't we prioritize that because that is from the Philippines and we have also imported something that is now in inventory. So, before we import more sugar, we should use up the supply here first.)

Earlier, the SRA released Sugar Order No. 4, a resolution claiming that the country is ready to import some 300,000 MT of sugar despite the ongoing harvest season of sugarcane farmers in the country.

Former DA Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian reportedly signed the resolution without Marcos’ consent. Sebastian has already resigned from his post and is now undergoing investigation along with the rest of the board.

While the SRA insists that sugar shortage is real, producers of sugar in the country say otherwise.

The United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) has earlier debunked the SRA’s claim, saying that the country still has enough sugar supply.

Manuel Lamata, president of UNIFED, said that the 200,000 MT of sugar imported by the SRA earlier this year were distributed to industrial companies, instead of being given to local traders as written in Sugar Order No. 3.

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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