Malacañang on Thursday said authorities will be conducting more inspections of sugar warehouses.
At a press conference, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles mentioned that Customs agents had exercised their "visitorial powers" on a warehouse in Pampanga as part of the directive of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to check warehouses that may be hoarding or keeping smuggled sugar.
Another inspection was later conducted on a warehouse in Bulacan, she added.
"This is a series of raids. Yes po we can confirm that there is another warehouse in the vicinity of Bulacan, di ko pa po ma-confirm kasi di ako sure kung tapos na 'yung pag-inspect ng BOC [I cannot confirm because I'm not sure if the inspection is already finished]. But we can confirm that there is another one today and possibly more in the coming days," she said.
Later in the day, the Office of the Press Secretary provided details of the Bulacan raid, saying that two warehouses in San Jose del Monte owned by a Chinese-Filipino sugar trader were inspected late Wednesday evening and on Thursday afternoon.
On Wednesday, authorities found around 25,000 to 30,000 sacks of different kinds of sugar which were neatly stacked in the warehouse, whose owner insisted that his sugar stock was “locally purchased.”
Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) officer-in-charge Joeffrey Tacio said they are doing inventory of the confiscated sugar and gave the owner 15 days to present the necessary documents that will prove the sugar seized were not hoarded.
Another warehouse owned by the same individual was also inspected on Thursday, with 42,733 sacks of sugar, equivalent to 2,150 metric tons of sugar, found by authorities.
The inspection, conducted by Customs agents and personnel from the Department of Agriculture, was done after authorities received information that Chua was supposedly keeping hoarded sugar to gain huge profits.
Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez said "the BOC's Pampanga sugar warehouse raid may very well serve as a warning to unscrupulous traders who are currently hoarding their stocks of sugar in order to profit from the current artificial sugar shortage situation."
Representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry as well as those from the Sugar Regulatory Administration have inspected the Pampanga warehouse to check if the sugar were hoarded, Cruz-Angeles said.
If proven that the Thailand sugar were smuggled, the warehouse owners may face charges of smuggling in relation to the provisions of The Customs Modernization Act (CMTA), according to the Office of the Press Secretary.
The raid was conducted amid issues on the sugar importation as well as the soaring prices of sugar in the market.
Meanwhile, the Palace has confirmed that the proposed amount of sugar that will be imported is 150,000 metric tons. —KBK/BM, GMA News