Senator Risa Hontiveros renewed her call for an investigation on the alleged “sugar cartel” in the Department of Agriculture (DA) wherein three sugar importers can amass huge profits of P10 billion to P14 billion from smuggled sugar from Thailand.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Sen. Francis Tolentino have yet to conduct a Senate probe on the alleged irregularities hounding the sugar importation.
Hontiveros however remains hopeful her plea will be acted upon. “I brought this to your attention , but I believe that Chair Francis is preparing… the latest we learned- time sensitive- so we need to come out with this to avert further damage,” Hontiveros said.
She is also optimistic that Senate President Migz Zubiri will be open and supportive should there be a probe on the sugar fiasco.
“We are talking here nothing less than large-scale agricultural smuggling. Nothing less than economic sabotage and billions and billions of pesos. These three- which composed the cartel” are not moderating their greed,” Hontiveros said, referring to All Asian Counter Trade, SUCDEN Philippines at Edison Lee Marketing.
Hontiveros also said Malacanang has yet to place under preventive suspension Agriculture Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban.
She said Panganiban’s illegal actions have not been sanctioned and his recent memo, Sugar Order No. 6 has not yet been revoked. She stressed that Panganiban also implicated Executive Sec. Lucas Bersamin and even President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the latest sugar fiasco.
She said Panganiban has repeatedly insisted that the first memo of Bersamin was the basis for the sugar importation from Thailand which arrived in the country through a Batangas port.
Hontiveros said the latest sugar fiasco seems to be a repeat of the first sugar importation that former Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez was dragged into.
But now, the latest fiasco has different cast of characters but similar position, further sparking public suspicion, Hontiveros said.
She also cited a photo of the sugar importers taken in Malacanang. The photo caption showed the names of Edwin Lee, Ian Alvarado, Michael Sucden and a certain Patricia. She referred to these persons as the current “favorite sugar importers.”
Hontiveros said the sugar importers should be held accountable for economic sabotage, agricultural smuggling and cartelization.
Furthermore, the senator said all industrial traders, who wanted to import sugar, were eventually referred by Domingo to the All Counter
Trade for their sugar needs. She said the industrial companies are protesting the high selling price of sugar which is P85.00 per kilo for the P25.00 Thailand sugar.
The P85.00, she said, is well above of what should be paid for a kilo of sugar.
But one reasonable question here, Hontiveros said, did Panganiban brought them i the Palace since they were favored as the most capable importers? Was it normal to bring these sugar importers to Malacanang? when was this photo taken before or after they were chosen by Panganiban?"
Around two weeks ago, Hontiveros filed a Senate resolution on the entry of imported sugar ahead of a valid sugar order