Customs team seizes 466k bags of 'hoarded sugar' in C. de Oro raid

Malacañang said there is no stopping the Marcos administration from going after big businessmen who are allegedly behind the widespread sugar hoarding as the Bureau of Customs (BOC) visited warehouses in Mindanao this week.

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In a statement, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said that the BOC visited the warehouses owned by Crystal Sugar Milling Inc. in North Poblacion, Cagayan de Oro.

"Isinagawa ang operasyon base na rin sa intelligence report na nagsasabing ang may-ari nito ay sangkot sa malawakang hoarding ng mga supply ng asukal (The operation was based on an intelligence report that said that the owner was involved in the widespread hoarding of the supply of sugar)," she said.

She added that Customs officials found more than 466,142 sacks of raw sugar from the company's three warehouses.

The initial investigation from the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) showed that 264,000 sacks of sugar in the warehouses wear already sold to businessmen but were yet to be delivered to them.

Angeles said a certain Javier Sagarbarria introduced himself to the authorities as the warehouse manager. He claimed that Crystal Sugar Milling could produce 2 million bags of sugar yearly. However, when the officers asked for sugar transaction documents to verify that the sugar in the warehouses was "authorized stock," Sagarbarria said the person who had the documents was not present.

Armed with a Letter of Authority and Mission Order, the BOC from Northern Mindanao conducted the operation with representatives from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and the local units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Earlier, Angeles said that the BOC would continue visiting sugar warehouses in the country in compliance with the government's campaign against the illegal importation of agricultural products.

"The government crackdown against hoarders and profiteers is part of the campaign of the Marcos government to bring down the price of sugar," she said.

Over the past few weeks, the BOC, SRA, and the Deaprtment of Agriculture have inspected several sugar warehouses in Caloocan, Manila, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Bulacan, Batangas, and Davao, among others.

Over the weekend, authorities seized 60,000 bags of hoarded sugar from three warehouses in Guiguinto, Bulacan, prompting Malacañang to believe that the country's problem with the sugar supply was only "artificial."