MANILA—The Department of Agriculture (DA) has directed the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to clear the release of imported sugar by three of its 'handpicked' importers.
In an internal memorandum obtained by the media, DA Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban instructed SRA Administrator David Alba to issue clearances to the warehouses of the three importers.
This includes All Asian Countertrade Inc, Edison Lee Marketing Corporation, and S&D Sucden Philippines.
"Considering the allocations under Sugar Order Number 6, Series 2022-2023 had been duly awarded, you may now issue the Clearances for Release of imported sugar," the memo read.
This development means the recent sugar import program was allocated to just these three importers.
Panganiban also said this includes the "controversial" sugar that already arrived in the country, which is part of the shipment allocated to All Asian Countertrade Inc.
However, this doesn't mean that the sugar imports can now be sold in markets.
Sugar arriving in the country is automatically classified as reserve sugar and has to be reclassified by the Sugar Regulatory Administration before being cleared for retail.
Just a week ago, the DA and the Sugar Regulatory Administration met controversy when Sen. Risa Hontiveros exposed alleged anomalies in the recent sugar import program.
Hontiveros earlier said that with these anomalies, DA is enabling large-scale state-sanctioned agricultural smuggling.
Panganiban earlier explained in Palace media that while he indeed expedited the import process, this was upon the instruction of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Sought for comment, Manuel Lamata, president of the United Sugar Producers Federation, said the impact of the release is yet to be felt.
"Wala pa naman effect sa millgate price sa Negros, ganoon pa rin. May P3,000, P3,100 (per bag), so it did not affect the millgate price of farmers," Lamata said.
Lamata added that even if the price of imported sugar goes down to P80-85 per kilo, local production will remain unaffected.
"Sa P3,000 per bag, okay 'yun, we can still do our work and buy fertilizer for the next planting season," Lamata said.
sugar, importation, Department of Agriculture, Risa Hontiveros, Domingo Panganiban, sugar regulatory administration