Sugar import plan timing questioned; milling season just started

Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon questioned the planned move of the Marcos administration to import sugar when “milling season” in the country has begun, hinting at the possibility of someone financially benefiting from it.

Ex-Comelec commissioner and P3PWD Party-list nominee Rowena Guanzon (ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN)

The feisty ex-commissioner, a P3PWD Party-list nominee, posted on Wednesday, Jan. 25, a link to a news article where she was interviewed about the government’s plan to import sugar.

“Bakit mag import ng asukal? Wala namang (Why import sugar? There is no) accurate data basta import lang (they just plan to import). Traders will manipulate prices. Who is going to make money ? Sino kikita (Who is going to earn)?,” she wrote on Twitter.

The news article quoted Guanzon as calling on the Chief Executive to decide on the importation of sugar based on actual data of local production, and not based on information from some people.

In another post, she questioned the practicality of importing sugar “when milling season has begun.”

“Now it is sugar that BBM wants to import when milling season has begun. Who is going to make money sa pag import ng asukal? Traders can manipulate prices,” she warned.

To recall, Marcos opposed the proposal of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to import sugar back in August 2021.

This had led to the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigating former Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, and SRA Board Members Aurelio Valderrama and Roland Beltran for the issuance of Sugar Order No. 4 in August last year for the importation of 300,000 MT of sugar and recommended that charges be filed against them.

The Office of the President (OP), however, absolved them of the mess.

Marcos, who sits as Agriculture chief and SRA chairman in a concurrent capacity, approved in September last year the importation of 150,000 metric tons of refined sugar and also directed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to inspect warehouses for possible hoarding of sugar.

It was quoted in the news article reposted by Guanzon that as much as 450,000 MT of sugar is being proposed for importation.