Press Release
September 6, 2022

Zubiri: Less gov't hand on sugar importation, allow stakeholders to buy own

Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" F. Zubiri on Tuesday, September 6, said sugar industry stakeholders must be allowed to import supplies of the commodity on their own to end suspicions of "tong-pats", or price-padding scheme.

Zubiri made the recommendation as the Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, or the Blue Ribbon Committee wrapped up its inquiry on the fiasco involving the import order released by Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

There should be less intervention from the government on importation, and end-users should instead be authorized to source their sugar supply based on their needs, the Senate chief said.

"Kung pwede, wala nang masyadong government intervention. Kung pwede po, 'yong importation, ibigay na lang directly sa ating mga high-demand users (If possible, there should be less government intervention. If possible, hand over the importation directly to our high-demand users)," Zubiri suggested.

He said SRA Acting Administrator David John Thaddeus Alba, as well as sugar millers and farmers, agreed to his proposal in a recent meeting.

"Para sa ganoon, wala nang isyung tong-pats (So there would be no more price-padding issue). Kasi kung hindi natin ginawa 'yan (Because if we don't do that), there will always be questions of corruption in the agency," Zubiri stressed.

Meanwhile, the Senate President lauded Blue Ribbon Committee chairman, Sen. Francis "Tol" Tolentino, for swiftly acting on his call to investigate the SRA's release of the Sugar Order No. 4, which Malacañang said was unauthorized by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who concurrently heads the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The order would have permitted the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

Last August 16, Zubiri delivered a privilege speech baring that unscrupulous individuals earn as much as ?600 million in kickbacks from the delivery of sugar into the country.

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