The Philippines’ biggest sugar bloc has committed its support to address the reported rampant smuggling of sugar into the country, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said on Tuesday, Aug. 9.
In a statement, the BOC said the United Sugar Producers Federation (UNiFED), through its chairman Manuel Lamata, assured compliance on the BOC reforms as well as offered assistance in running after sugar smugglers in the country.
Lamata met with acting BOC Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz through video call as they discussed plans for cooperation.
During the meeting, Ruiz assured that he would initiate measures to address the perennial problem of sugar smuggling and would regularly consult stakeholders to resolve the current issues on smuggling agricultural products.
He said the aggressive campaign against smuggling was what President “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. wanted him to address.
“The information you will provide (with us) will be acted upon immediately. I will be tasking intelligence and enforcement Groups to be aggressive on speculated sugar smuggling. It is one of the primary directives of the President so I will be acting on it,” said Ruiz.
Sugar, one of the most lucrative commodities to smuggle in the Philippines, is a highly regulated product that requires proper import clearances from authorized government agencies.
Sugar producers have complained about the illegal sugar shipments, which have greatly affected members of the poorest sectors in the country.
For his part, Sugar Anti-Smuggling Organization (SASO) Edgardo Lomanog Jr. assured that his group would exchange reports with the BOC on alleged sugar smuggling activities.
“illegal smuggling activities have become more complex as they involve identity thefts of local and international companies,” said Lomanog.
Ruiz, for his part, said the BOC Intelligence Group and Enforcement Group would also work with SASO and UNiFED to curb the proliferation of smuggled sugar in the country.