President and concurrent Agriculture Secretary Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. over the weekend said there may be a need to import sugar come October, but that it would not be as much as the earlier reported 300,000 metric tons needed.
In a vlog post on the Office of the President’s Facebook page on Sunday evening, Marcos said the government is now in coordination with various stakeholders regarding the issue of sugar importation.
“Maari bandang Oktubre, baka ‘yung supply na nandito sa Pilipinas ay paubos na, baka sakali ay kailangan nating mag-import, pero kakaunti lang,” he said.
“Hindi kasing dami ng kanilang sinasabi dati na 300,000 metric tons. Siguro malaki na ‘yung 150,000 metric tons, para sa buong taon na ito, kaya sa aking palagay nabawasan natin nang mabuti ang importation ng sugar,” he added.
[Possible by October, the supply in the Philippines will be almost gone, so we may need to import, but not a lot. Not as much as the 300,000 metric tons they were saying; maybe 150,000 would already be a lot for the full year, so in my opinion, we cut down significantly on the importation of sugar.]
Latest data from the Department of Agriculture (DA) show that prices of refined sugar were recorded at P100.00 per kilogram, washed sugar at P75.00 per kilogram, and brown sugar at P70.00 per kilogram in Metro Manila as of August 12, 2022.
Marcos also on Sunday explained that he earlier rejected proposals for the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar as he said the country still has enough supplies to meet the demand.
“Tinignan ko ng mabuti kung ano ba ang available na sugar dito sa Pilipinas kung bakit kailangan mag-import. Nakita ko naman may sapat na supply dito, na nandito sa Pilipinas,” he said.
“So sabi ko bakit hindi 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 na muna natin ang supply dito,” he added.
[I looked closely on the available sugar in the Philippines and why there is a need to import. I saw that there we have sufficient supplies so I said why don’t we use this first because this is from the Philippines, and we also have earlier imports in the inventory. Before we import new supplies I said let us first finish the supplies we have.]
The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) earlier released Sugar Order 4, which provided for the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.
Press Secretary Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles said, however, said the order was illegal, as the Sugar Regulatory Board convened and issued a resolution without the approval of Marcos who also sits as chairman of the board.
Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian—who appears to have signed the Sugar Order—has since apologized and resigned.
An investigation into the matter is ongoing, covering all those who signed the order. Aside from Sebastion, other signatories include Sugar Regulatory Administration Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, who is also the vice chairperson of the Sugar Regulatory Board, and board members Roland Beltran and Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr. — BM, GMA News