「日刊まにら新聞」ウェブ

1992年にマニラで創刊した「日刊まにら新聞」のウェブサイトです。フィリピン発のニュースを毎日配信しています。

本日休刊日

5月24日のまにら新聞から

Bersamin defends 440,000 MT sugar importation

[ 631 words|2023.5.24|英字 (English) ]

Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on Tuesday defended the importation of 440,000 metric tons of sugar in January before the issuance of Sugar Order No. 6.

During a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, Bersamin said the sugar importation was “legitimate” and “fully authorized by the government”.

The panel was probing the entries of sugar shipments to the country’s ports ahead of Sugar Order No. 6.

“We confirm that the importation was legitimate and fully authorized by the government. The importation was not an effort at cartelization, nor was it about government smuggling of sugar,” Bersamin told lawmakers.

He maintained that a sugar order was not necessary for importation and that agencies involved in the process were acting in “accordance with the law”.

“We were aware that the sugar order was not absolutely necessary…for the importation to be made. But, in the end, if the sugar importation came already into the country, that sugar importation would still be important for the issuance of clearances by the SRA. Because the clearances would be required by the Bureau of Customs. That is the context that the Sugar Order and clearance should be differentiated,” Bersamin said.

“So to us in the Office of the President, we have committed no irregularity, when we issued that sugar order. Neither was there any violation committed by any of the parties who were involved in these questioned transactions,” he said.

"Right now as we read it, the Department of Agriculture, the SRA (Sugar Regulatory Administration), and the Bureau of Customs all acted in accordance with the law," he added.

Bersamin said there were other ways to import sugar besides using the sugar order such as the Minimum Access Volume program and the President using his powers as a chief executive to import if there is an urgent need.

“Subsequently, the SRA issued Sugar Order 6 to cover this importation so that there will be proper documentation that would allow the Bureau of Customs and other concerned agencies to process and release the shipments,” Bersamin said.

He said that the sugar importation was carried out to address the effects of inflation on prices.

“This was not an effort for cartelization. This was undertaken by the government to address inflation in the months leading to January 2023," he said.

“The administration thereby made sure that the importation would establish a buffer stock of sugar as a measure to regulate price increases in a large way that objective was realized,” he added.

Bersamin said he directed Agriculture Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban under President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to continue with the sugar importation.

“There was guidance from the President , but I confirm that I was the one who instructed Undersecretary Panganiban to proceed with the processing of the sugar order and to attend to this issue of this importation,” he said.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, who described the importation as “state-sponsored smuggling”, asked if Panganiban acted on his own when he selected the three sugar importers and if he should be criminally liable for doing so.

She also asked if the Palace had also instructed Panganiban to forego P4.7 billion worth of performance bonds from the importers.

In response, Bersamin said that Panganiban chose the three importers based on the recommendations of the SRA.

“I’m sorry but at that point, I was the one coordinating with Undersecretary Panganiban here because that was about a period of busy schedules for the President. In fact, this was a period that included his trip to Davos and having come from some other places,” he said.

“So I take the responsibility for any kind of haste that might have attended this and if Undersecretary Panganiban made the choices, I could ratify those choices because I was acting in the interest of the president and this administration,” he added. Jaspearl Tan/DMS