Lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc have questioned the validity of the sugar shortage and at the same time criticized President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for his plan to import 150,000 metric tons (MTs) of sugar despite rejecting the initial proposal to import 300,000 MTs of the sweetener.
Gabriela Women’s Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas asked if there was, in fact, a sugar shortage, or if it was merely a ploy to justify high-volume importation.
“At hindi mababago ang sitwasyon kung magkaroon lang ng balasahan sa Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA). We need to go to the bottom of the issue. Totoo ba ang sugar shortage o gawa-gawa lang para ikatwiran ang importasyon? Paano nagbabangga ang interes ng kartel ng asukal at local sugar barons? (Nothing will change if the SRA will continue to be a mess. Is the sugar shortage real or is this just a farce to justify imports? How do the interests of sugar cartels and local sugar barons coincide?” Brosas said during a Makabayan bloc press conference on Thursday, Aug. 18.
Brosas further chastised Marcos for his alleged flip-flopping on the sugar issue and reckoned that the government should focus on reducing fertilizer prices instead.
“Atras-abante si Marcos Jr. dahil matapos bawiin ang planong importasyon ng 300,000 MTs ng asukal, pupusisyon din pala siya na mag-angkat ng 150,000. Aksyunan dapat ang napakamahal na produksyon ng lokal ng asukal. Kailangang ibaba ang presyo ng abono sa kagyat, sa halip na importasyon na naman ang gawin (Marcos Jr. is back and forth because, after rejecting the proposal to import 300,000 MTs of sugar, he still wants to import 150,000 MTs. The government should act on the high prices of local sugar production. Fertilizer prices should urgently be reduced, instead of importing sugar),” Brosas argued.
Meanwhile, ACT-Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro urged the President to use his power to investigate the sugar mess.
“Urong-sulong si President Marcos Jr. kaugnay dito sa importasyon. At kung talagang meron syang political will, sabi nga po namin sa pagdinig ay tingnan kung totoo talaga na nagkukulang tayo ng sugar (President Marcos Jr. is back and forth on the sugar importasyon. If he really had political will, as we said in the hearing, investigate if we really are facing a sugar shortage),” Castro said during the same presser.
“Pwede niya gamitin ang kanyang power para makita talaga yung mga warehouse ng sugar na ito para makita natin ang inventory talaga (He can use his power to check the warehouses where sugar is stored so we can see the inventory)…Para malaman natin yung totoong sitwasyon (So we can know the real situation),” she added.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives and the Senate are both set to investigate to the sugar mess. Marcos has previously said that the investigation into the unauthorized importation would be left in the hands of Congress.