DTI maintains sugar mess monitoring role

Despite the series of raids on sugar warehouses, the Trade department will just play a supporting role, a Cabinet official said.

“The Department of Trade and Industry only helps other partners in government. If there is hoarding? We have due process. We will just play a supporting role,” DTI Secretary Alfredo Pascual said during the Lufthansa Technik Philippines formal opening of Hangar 1A.

The DTI has received a report of suspected sugar hoarders and illegal importers which will undergo evaluation, Pascual added.

Moreover, the secretary declined to say if there will be further action to be taken against those who had been raided during previous days.

“I don’t want to jump to any conclusion when I don’t have all the facts yet,” Pascual said.

The Department of Agriculture and the Sugar Regulatory Administration are the agencies in charge of managing supply and regulating the price of sugar.

The DTI, nonetheless, has been constantly monitoring sugar prices, Pascual added.

Sabotage bruited about
Malacañang, earlier said major supermarkets agreed to fix the suggested retail price of sugar at P70 per kilo and sell only a maximum of one kilo per consumer by next week.

Moreover, authorities are now determining if the recently inspected warehouses were used for hoarding and if it constitutes economic sabotage, a top official of the Sugar Regulatory Administration said over the weekend.

“We have to understand that hoarding is an offense subject to verification,” SRA Deputy Administrator Guillermo Tejida III said in a television interview.

“Even the DTI would not categorically state the existence of hoarding in these warehouses,” he added.

Earlier, the Bureau of Customs conducted a series of inspections of warehouses in Pampanga and Bulacan also in Manila to check the inventories of imported sugar amid the supply issues hounding the country.

The inspections were conducted following an order from Customs Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez, acting on a directive from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., directing the BoC to exercise its visitorial powers to all customs bonded warehouses and check the inventory of imported agricultural products.

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