President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has approved the sale of seized smuggled sugar at P70 per kilo at Kadiwa centers, the Presidential Communications Office said Tuesday in a statement.
“Recently, Mr. Marcos approved the recommendation of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to give as a donation to the Department of Agriculture the 4,000 metric tons of smuggled refined sugar to be sold to the public at Kadiwa Centers in the amount equivalent to the actual mill gate prices that are currently P70 per kilo,” the PCO said.
The President also ordered the DA, which he heads as concurrent Agriculture Secretary, and SRA to coordinate with the Bureau of Customs and other government agencies to ensure that the sugar for sale has passed the Food Safety Act and other regulations, it added.
The price of refined sugar in the market costs between P86 and P110 per kilo.
The Kadiwa Center is a DA program that aims to provide the public with affordable goods.
The PCO, citing the Customs Modernization Tariff Act, said the confiscated smuggled agricultural products can be given by donation to other government agencies.
“In as much as we want to give it for free directly to those in need, the sugar industry, including small farmers, need to be considered. Giving away sugar for free will result in an artificial drop in prices that will cost losses for fellow workers in the sugar industry,” the PCO said.
The goal is to provide the consuming public with the cheaper sugar in the market, SRA board member and planters’ representative Pablo Luis Azcona said in a “24 Oras” TV report on Tuesday.
The United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED) supported the Palace move.
“These smugglers can’t recycle anymore. Because those who are caught by the authorities are bidding and auctioning, but the buyer is still the same, they are still smugglers. So the goods become recyclable. Now, there is no chance to recycle,” UNIFED president Manuel Lamata said.
The DA said it is preparing the guidelines to ensure that the initiative will pass the legal hurdles.
“Maybe with a donation. If it is donated to the DA, from agriculture to other institutions maybe FTI (Food Terminal Inc.), then from FTI going to Kadiwa,” DA deputy spokesperson Rex Estoperez said.
Asked if the SRA expects a legal impediment, Estoperez said: “Nothing, as long as we have to make it clear in our guidelines.” With Vince Lopez