Sugar scandals pointing to DA, Malacanang
The culprits of the state-sponsored importation/smuggling of sugar and corruption within the sugar agency could be well-entrenched inside the Department of Agriculture and Malacanang.
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas gave this comment as the non-stop fiasco and scandals beleaguering the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) points to a more chronic problem within SRA and the agriculture department. This week, SRA chief David Thaddeus Alba announced his resignation from the post he held for only seven months. His predecessor, former SRA chief Hermenigildo Serafica was sacked after the unauthorized Sugar Order No. 2 allowed the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar in August last year.
Alba’s resignation came weeks after the controversial “importation” of 440,000 metric tons of sugar in February, from three importers that were reportedly “handpicked” by agriculture undersecretary Domingo Panganiban.
“Hindi matapos-tapos ang sugar scandal na ito dahil ang kartel ng asukal pinapatakbo kasabwat ang mga tiwaling opisyal ng DA, SRA at posibleng hanggang sa Malakanyang. Kailangan na malaman ng publiko ang puno’t-dulo ng iskandalong ito na yumayanig sa pamumuno ni Pangulong Bongbong Marcos Jr. sa Department of Agriculture,” according to KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos.
Prevailing prices of sugar in Metro Manila remain at a high P90 to P110 per kilo and even higher in provinces.
Ramos said even with Alba’s resignation, Marcos Jr. is not yet off the hook over these unending sugar scandals. “Si Marcos Jr ang hepe ng Sugar Board ng SRA. Imposible na wala siyang alam sa mga desisyon at kalakaran sa importasyon ng asukal at mga ‘milagrong’ nangyayari sa SRA. Mayroon talagang mga kumikita ng malaki sa importasyon at smuggling ng asukal at may accountability dito ang Pangulo,” Ramos reiterated.
Cleanse the agri department
KMP challenged Marcos to conduct a “thorough internal cleansing” within the DA to weed out the corrupt and unscrupulous officials including senior undersecretary Domingo Panganiban.
“Panawagan namin sa Pangulo na linisin ang DA at alisin ang mga kasabwat ng importers, traders, hoarders at smugglers. Ang mandato ng DA ay tiyakin ang sektor ng agrikultura at kasapatan sa pagkain ng bansa subalit puro problema ang ibinibigay ng ahensyang ito sa mga magsasaka at mamamayang Pilipino.”
KMP also reiterated its demand for the President to step down as the concurrent agriculture secretary and appoint a more competitive executive to helm the department. ###