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Philippines may soon import 150,000 MT of sugar

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Philippines may soon import 150,000 MT of sugar
Workers organized different kinds of repacked sugar at a store in Quezon City on August 11, 2022.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday confirmed a proposal to import 150,000 metric tons of sugar to address a supply problem that is threatening to increase the prices of food products.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday in a Facebook post that he and representatives of farmers, millers, sugar workers and refiners met with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Wednesday to discuss importation and productivity issues.

The senator said he and the agriculture workers thanked Marcos for not allowing too much importation of sugar that would have affected hundreds of thousands of local farmers and farm workers.

However, they acknowledged the need to import a smaller amount of sugar for industrial and household consumers and that the consensus using available data on the remaining demand was to buy 150,000 metric tons.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the proposed volume of sugar to be imported was based on the needs of the industries who use the commodity in large quantities

"They are the ones using sugar in commercial quantities, in large commercial quantities, and some jobs are dependent on their continued production. So yes, we confirm that it is the proposed amount, 150,000 metric tons," Angeles said at a press briefing.

Angeles could not say when the importation would take place. Marcos previously said the Philippines may need to import 150,000 metric tons of sugar in October since the supply of the commodity would have dwindled by that time.

The volume is just half of the 300,000 metric tons proposed earlier by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) but was rejected by Marcos.

Earlier this month, Malacañang described as "illegal" the sugar order on the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, saying it was issued without the president's approval.

Three signatories of the order, namely agriculture undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, SRA chief Hermenegildo Serafica and SRA board member Roland Beltran have resigned. A probe on the unauthorized order is ongoing.

Marcos said Monday the government is looking into allowing food manufacturers to import sugar directly. He has described the sugar supply problem as "worrisome" but has assured the public that the country won't import more than what it needs.

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