MANILA (UPDATED)— Around 350,000 sacks of sugar, most of which are imported, were found in 3 warehouses in Silang, Cavite, as the government continues its crackdown against possible sugar hoarding, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Friday.
All the bags of refined sugar were identified for industrial use. A total of 314,000 bags from the total inventory were imported from Thailand, authorities said.
Authorities also discovered 36,000 bags of local sugar, DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said.
Based on documents presented by representatives of the warehouse, the imported sugar were cleared under Sugar Order Number 3, which authorized the first wave of sugar importation this year.
Industrials solely benefited from this importation.
The three warehouses were leased by a sugar trading company supplying refined sugar for various food manufacturers.
According to the Department of Agriculture, relevant documents of the imported sugar still have to undergo validation.
The 36,000 bags of locally-produced sugar found in the warehouse, authorities said, will still need a deeper investigation as these were also allocated to industrials.
“Ang question namin, ‘yong local sugar dito ay meant pa rin for industrials. So ‘yong supply for local consumers, mababawasan dahil mapupunta na naman sa industrial ‘yong local,” Agriculture Undersecretary Federico Lasiste, Jr. said.
(Our question is: the local sugar here is still meant for industrials so the local supply for consumers will be decreased because this would go to industrial users.)
The DTI proposed to industrials to convert some of their stocks for domestic consumption.
“Gusto sana natin ma-convert siya to domestic consumption para bumaha naman ang supply sa retail… Hindi tayo kakabahan at hindi tayo matatakot sa pagtaas ng presyo dahil walang asukal,” Castelo said.
(We want to convert these to domestic consumption so the supply in retail will increase. We will no longer fear the spike in sugar prices if this happens.)
Last week, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) found some 44,000 sacks of suspected smuggled sugar, with an estimated value of P220 million, in warehouses in Pampanga and Bulacan.
In a separate operation that week, the BOC said it seized 140,000 bags of white refined sugar with total tax payment valued at P45.6 million at the Port of Subic.
As a result of that operation, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said 6 Customs officials were sacked pending the results of the investigation regarding the possibility of conniving with illegal sugar smugglers.
Malacañang earlier said it was looking into the possibility of an "artificial" sugar shortage in the country given recent findings in warehouse inspections.
So far, inspections have been conducted in sugar warehouses located in the following areas, according to the Palace:
- Deparo, Caloocan City
- Balut in Tondo
- San Nicolas in Manila
- Rosales, Pangasinan
- San Fernando, Pampanga
- Ibaan, Batangas
— with reports from Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News