MANILA (UPDATED) — Malacañang on Friday said it is studying the possibility that the country's sugar shortage problem may be "artificial" and vowed to continue the crackdown against hoarding and illegal importation.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles issued the statement when asked if President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. would allocate the sugar output for crop year 2022 to 2023.
"Depende po yan sa magiging findings natin. Ang tinitignan natin sa ngayon kung artipisyal ba ang shortage ng asukal o hindi. [Ang] pag-aallocate ay magiging base sa kung meron ngang kakulangan o hindi. So titingnan pa po natin," said Cruz-Angeles in a Palace briefing.
She added that the crackdown on illegal importation and hoarding aims to resolve the shortage of sugar in the country.
"Tuloy pa rin ang pag-inspect ng mga warehouses ng asukal bilang gamit ng visitorial powers ng Customs at ibang mga ahensya tulad ng DTI at Sugar Regulatory Administration para malaman ang tunay na estado at dami ng asukal sa merkado at sa mga warehouses tungo sa pagresolba ng tila artipisyal na krisis sa asukal," she said.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC) earlier in the day foiled the importation of possibly smuggled sugar products in Subic, Zambales with total tax payment valued at P45.6 million.
On Wednesday, the agency also found some 44,000 sacks of suspected smuggled sugar with an estimated value of P220 million in warehouses in Pampanga and Bulacan.
Authorities are also conducting inspections in Deparo, Caloocan; Balut, Tondo and San Nicolas in Manila; Rosales, Pangasinan; San Fernando, Pampanga; Ibaan, Batangas; and in Davao.
Some operations led to discovery of "questionable" documents among warehouse owners, the Palace official said, while some were able to present legitimate documents.
"Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang operasyon natin at nagpapatunay ito sabi ni ES Vic Rodriguez na seryoso ang kampanya natin para malinis ang sindikato ng hoarding at iligal importation ng asukal," she said.
Malacañang earlier in the day said major supermarkets agreed to bring down the suggested retail price (SRP) of sugar to P70 by next week, following Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez's meeting with several business leaders.