Trader denies hoarding sugar

Crystal Sugar Milling Company owner Pablo Lobregat on Monday denied accusations that his company has been hoarding sugar.

Last week, Custom agents swooped down on a warehouse in Bukidnon that he owns and discovered around 400,000 bags of sugar.

In a television interview, Lobregat said the sacks that were found by authorities only represent 15 percent of the nearly three million bags they produced this year.

“This is not hoarding. We are just a bodega at this point because most of that sugar there is not ours to sell,” Lobrega said.

“We are just holding it until people bring in the warehouse receipts so they can withdraw,” he added.

He said the sacks of sugar were found in two out of his firm’s five warehouses. He added that while they looked mountainous, they are only about 22,000 metric tons that are mostly raw sugar and not for industrial use.

Malacañang previously said the inspection on the Crystal Sugar warehouse was conducted based on intelligence reports that the owners are allegedly engaged in the hoarding of stocks of sugar.

Lobregat refuted these claims, saying that thousands of sacks in his facility have already been sold to traders, but the stocks have yet to be withdrawn from his warehouse.

“The premise of this intelligent source that has been feeding Malacañang, feeding wrong information, or misleading Malacañang to say that there is hoarding, is not correct,” he stressed.

He explained that under a “quedan” or a mandatory warehouse receipt system, 34 percent of sugar in the warehouses is sold by the miller, while the remaining 66 percent belongs to the planters.

Lobregat, meanwhile, believes there is a sugar supply shortage locally as he cited data from the Sugar Regulatory Administration, stating that the sugar production in the country significantly decreased while its demand increased.

He said local sugar production decreased by more than 345,000 metric tons this year, which he believes was caused by the weather.

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