MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday defended President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s approval to sell seized smuggled sugar, citing the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) in a statement Tuesday night argued that confiscated smuggled agricultural products could be given to government agencies as "donation."
"Ayon na rin sa Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA), ang mga nakukumpiskang ilegal na iniangkat na mga produktong agrikultura ay maaaring ibigay sa pamamagitan ng donasyon sa ibang ahensiya ng pamahalaan," it said.
On Monday, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said 4,000 metric tons of confiscated smuggled sugar would soon be sold in the government's Kadiwa stores at P70 per kilo following Marcos' go signal.
The Kadiwa program is a project by the Department of Agriculture (DA) that allows farmers to directly sell their produce to consumers at much lower prices.
The PCO also said the move was aligned with Marcos' goal to make sugar prices affordable.
Refined sugar in public markets is sold at P86 to P110 a kilo, it noted.
The PCO, meanwhile, assured the public that the smuggled sugar is safe for consumption.
It said Marcos has ordered the agriculture department, which he concurrently heads, to coordinate with several government agencies to ensure the product passed food safety standards.
The office added that it couldn't distribute the seized sugar for free because it would trigger an artificial decrease in prices and would negatively impact the industry.