Marcos to 'reorganize' SRA amid sugar import mess, leave probe up to Congress

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2022 02:03 PM | Updated as of Aug 17 2022 04:45 PM

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. speaks during the celebration of the 15th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) week held at the Marriot Hotel in Clark Pampanga on August 11, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. speaks during the celebration of the 15th Philippine National Health Research System (PNHRS) week held at the Marriot Hotel in Clark Pampanga on August 11, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE)— President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday said he will "reorganize" the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) following the resignation of key officials because of the botched sugar import resolution. 

Marcos, head of the Department of Agriculture, said the reorganization of the agency, tasked to promote the growth of the country's sugar industry, could be finished "before the end of this week." 

The move aims to find out how much the country has in terms of sugar supply and whether or not an importation is warranted at this time.

"We’ll reorganize the SRA and then we will come to an arrangement with the industrial consumers, with the planters, the millers, suppliers of the sugar to coordinate para talaga kung ano ’yung mayroon, kung ano ’yung available, mailabas na sa merkado," he said. 

" ’Yung kulang, eh kunin na natin, kunin na natin. Mag-import na tayo. Mapipilitan talaga tayo."

The announcement came as three officials and board members of the SRA resigned nearly a week after the unauthorized signing of a sugar import order.

The order, signed August 10, aimed to address the country's limited sugar supply and its soaring prices, with the signatories noting that the raw sugar balance will be less than 35,231 metric tons by the end of the month. 

Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian was the first to resign on Thursday, admitting to the lapses he made for signing the document on behalf of Marcos. 

This week, SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica and SRA board member Roland Beltran tendered their resignations. 

CONGRESS PROBE

Meanwhile, Marcos said he would leave the investigation on the sugar import fiasco to Congress, as prices of refined sugar already reached P100 in wet markets

A separate probe on the matter is being undertaken by Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Atty. Richard Palpalatoc, said Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles. 

"Ipinaubaya namin ang imbestigasyon sa House, sa legislature and even the Senate. Dahil ang iniintindi ko lang talaga is that hindi tayo tumagal na mayroon tayong shortage ng sugar, lalong-lalo na para sa mga industrial consumer," said Marcos when asked for updates on the probe. 

"‘Yung mga gumagawa ng soda, ng mga drinks, pati na ‘yung mga sa pagkain, all of the outlets na ganoon. Ayaw natin maipit ‘yun," he added. 

The House committees on good government and agriculture said it would continue their investigation into a canceled sugar importation order despite the resignation of some SRA officials. 

The joint probe will resume on Monday, Aug. 22, 

Several beverage bottling and manufacturing firms have already sounded the alarm on the shortage of premium refined sugar, a key ingredient in sodas and other sweetened beverages. 

Marcos this week said he is looking into the direct importation of sugar through industry players, to help address the shortage. 

He had also said the country is likely to import 150,000 metric tons of sugar by October to keep prices steady in local markets.

WATCH

Watch more News on iWantTFC