September 15, 2022
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved the importation of sugar not exceeding 150,000 metric tons (MT) to address the shortage of supply and curb rising prices in the country.
According to Sugar Order No. 2, posted on the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) website, half of the total import volume, or 75,000 MT, would be allocated to industrial users or companies using sugar in their manufacturing process, while the other half would be given to consumers or the market.
“After due consultation, the Stakeholders of the Sugar Industry have submitted their respective positions and letters of endorsement recognizing the need for an importation program for the crop year 2022 to 2023,” the order signed by Marcos and other Department of Agriculture and SRA officials dated September 13 said.
“After taking into consideration all comments, inputs, and information, the SRA deems it necessary to adopt additional, responsive, and pre-emptive measures to ensure domestic supply and manage sugar prices in order to achieve the foregoing policy declarations through timely government intervention by way of importation in order to maintain a balanced supply and demand of sugar for domestic consumption,” it added.
SRA said that it would start accepting applications for the importation of sugar three days after the effectiveness of the order.
Before Sugar Order No. 2, there were controversies involving sugar importation after the President stopped SRA’s Sugar Order No. 4 — which was signed on his behalf and mandated the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar amid an impending shortage.
Marcos contradicted the order, saying that while there may be a need to import sugar, it would definitely be lower than 300,000 metric tons. The current administration has vowed to investigate the issue, saying that Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary for Operations Leocadio Sebastian and other DA and SRA officials who signed Sugar Order No. 4 are being probed.
Panels in both the House of Representatives and the Senate are currently investigating the issue. After the revelation of an attempt to import sugar, there have been assessments that the shortage may be artificial, considering that some inspections have shown sugar being stocked in warehouses.
It could also be remembered that a cargo vessel carrying imported sugar was stopped by the Bureau of Customs at a Subic port due to allegations that the import documents presented were merely recycled.
Malacañang said that ‘heads may roll’ at BOC after this possible attempt to smuggle over 7,000 metric tons of sugar into the country.