Heads must roll at DA, and BOC for non-stop sugar smuggling amid importation and price hikes

Heads must roll at DA, and BOC for non-stop sugar smuggling amid importation and price hikes

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas censured anew the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for failing to curb the relentless smuggling of sugar amid the latest price hike of sugar to P110 per kilo. “DA and BOC officials are making a fool of consumers who are reeling from high prices of sugar and its common product, bread. Napakaraming nasasabat na smuggled na asukal pero wala namang nahuhuli na mga big-time smugglers na maysala sa Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.”

“Agriculture and customs officials must face sacking for their failure to address the massive smuggling of agricultural products. Sibakin at alisin na sa pwesto ang mga tiwaling opisyal sa DA at BOC na protektor at kasabwat ng smugglers,” according to KMP.

This week, authorities seized some P19 million worth of smuggled sugar shipment at the Manila International Container Port and some 80,000 bags of white sugar worth P261 million at the Batangas port. In October last year, BOC seized its biggest catch of P228 million worth of smuggled Thailand sugar.

KMP also scoffed at the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s proposal to sell smuggled sugar at lower prices at KADIWA stores. “Hindi dumaan sa sanitary at pytosanity inspections ang mga kontrabadong ito tapos gustong ibenta ng SRA sa konsyumers. Paano makakasiguro ang publiko na ligtas ang mga kontrabandong asukas? Ang dapat gawin ng DA at Customs ay hulihin ang mga untouchables na smugglers na kilalang-kilala din naman nila,” according to KMP chairperson emeritus Rafael Mariano. Mariano added that DA’s ineffective handling of the food price hike problem even warrants a ‘mass resignation of agri officials.’

Sugar prices started to increase in the last quarter of 2022 to P100 per kilo despite the arrival of some 150,000 metric tons of imported sugar and the start of the harvest and milling season. Sugar prices hiked further this month to P110 per kilo based on price monitors. Marcos Jr. authorized the importation of a total of 300,000 metric tons of sugar last year despite many fiascos and controversies within the SRA and the DA.

Groups will protest at the SRA next week over the ongoing sugar crisis. ###

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