Press Release
September 21, 2022


Senator Risa Hontiveros renewed her warning that there is "an actual - and not just anticipated - sugar shortage" in the Philippines, and urged the government to act swiftly to avoid soaring food prices and the loss of livelihood of sugar industry workers around the country.

During her interpellation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report on the sugar importation fiasco, Hontiveros presented more documents proving that contrary to claims that the sugar shortage is "artificial," public documents show that government officials were already flagging the limited supply of refined sugar and the inability of current stocks to meet domestic demand as early as April this year.

"By April 8, 2022, the National Economic Development Authority already flagged the limited supply and high prices of refined sugar, and declared that domestic production of refined sugar is not enough to meet the local demand. This letter was in response to a request for comments on the letter of Coca-Cola highlighting the company's supply gap of 116,000 metric tons," Hontiveros said.

"Kabuhayan ng mga kababayan natin ang nakasalalay dito. Kahapon lamang o noong isang araw lamang na September 18, 2022, nireport na bukod pa sa mga planta ng Coke sa Davao, Cavite, Zamboanga at Camarines Sur, ay may temporary shutdown na din sa Bohol at Iloilo ng mga planta ng Coke. If this is all just a big conspiracy to create an artificial shortage para makapag-import at makapag-tongpats, magsasara ba ang Coke ng planta?," she added.

The senator also pointed out that in a June 7, 2022 meeting, Malacanang officials in the Economic Development Cabinet Cluster recommended to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. the importation of 450,000 metric tons of sugar from Thailand and Brazil. The cluster, Hontiveros said, also revealed that the country "is still facing a supply deficit of 74,000 metric tons of raw sugar even if these imports are fully made."

In response to queries by Senator Francis Tolentino, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Hontiveros clarified that she obtained the April 2022 NEDA letter, as well as other documents, only after the Blue Ribbon hearings on the sugar fiasco had already concluded.

"I'm presenting this to the Senate plenary, since in any case, it is public interest, and the public's right to know should prevail," she said. It is extremely important to remove any cloud of doubt that there is, in fact, an actual - and not just anticipated - but an actual shortage in the supply of sugar. There is so much at stake. We have to act swiftly," she stressed.

Hontiveros also reiterated her position that there is enough proof showing that suspended Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, former SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, and former Board members Roland Beltran and Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr. acted in good faith when they signed the controversial Sugar Order No. 4.

"The disproportionately punitive actions against career civil servants like former Undersecretary Sebastian would only discourage officials from acting with dispatch on issues as critical as prices and supply of important household commodities, she said. Sa huli, mamamayang Pilipino ang matatalo dito," she concluded.

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