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Marcos: Philippines may need to import some sugar as supply dwindles

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Marcos: Philippines may need to import some sugar as supply dwindles
Farmers harvest sugarcane in Tuy, Batangas on May 14, 2021.
The STAR / Ernie Penaredondo, file

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is open to importing additional sugar in October but the volume may be less than the 300,000 metric tons proposed by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) last week.

Marcos rejected the SRA's proposal and the House on Monday started hearings on the authorization to import sugar that the agency issued but that the Palace said the president had thumbed down.

In a vlog posted on YouTube on Sunday, Marcos said the country has enough sugar so there is no need to import for now. The local supply should be consumed first before importing additional sugar, he added.  

However, the president said the Philippines' sugar supply might dwindle in October so the government might need to buy the commodity from other countries.

"Pero kakaunti lang, hindi kasing dami ng kanilang sinasabi dati na 300,000 tons. Eh siguro marami — malaki na ‘yung 150,000 (metric) tons para sa buong taon na ito (But it won't be as much as the 300,000 tons they said previously. Maybe 150,000 metric tons is already too much for this entire year)," he said.

Marcos was referring to Sugar Order No. 4, which called for the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar and uploaded on the SRA's website last week.

Malacañang has described the order as "illegal," saying the president, who is also the chairman of the Sugar Regulatory Board, had not authorized the issuance of the document. The Palace is now investigating to determine if there is negligence or malice behind the release of the order.

Leocadio Sebastian, the agriculture undersecretary who had signed the order for Marcos, has resigned and has admitted to signing the document without the president's permission.

"We really do not want to import but if the supply of food is not enough, we would be forced to import because if we do not import and the supply is low, prices would go up," the president said in Filipino.

"While we are fixing our production, we still have to import but we will make sure our imports won't be more than what is needed," he added.

Fertilizer sources

In the same vlog, Marcos said the government would look at non-traditional sources of fertilizers to enhance the production of farmers.

"Iyong mga iba’t ibang bansa na hindi naman natin iniimporta noon ay nilalapitan na ngayon natin at baka sakali makabili tayo ng fertilizer na mas mura (We are approaching different countries that are not the usual source of our imports, hoping that we can buy cheaper fertilizer)," the president said.

"On the part of the government, we are talking to our friends from different countries because if the trading of fertilizer is done through government-to-government, it would be cheaper," he added.

Marcos recently announced plans to reach out to China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia and the United Arab Emirates to buy cheaper fertilizer through bilateral agreements. 

He said the government is also planning to issue e-vouchers to farmers and is talking to fertilizer traders to control the price of urea, which has been affected by oil price hikes.

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