BACOLOD CITY, Philippines -- Negros Occidental Representative Jose Carlos Lacson is pushing for the dumping of all smuggled sugar into the sea.
Lacson, congressman of the third district of the sugar-producing province, said on Sunday that he filed on Thursday House Bill 5064, or the "Disposition of Confiscated Smuggled Sugar in Bureau of Customs Custody Act of 2008."
"Government should send a strong signal that smuggling does not pay," he said.
The proposed act would prohibit the sale of smuggled sugar that has been confiscated by the Bureau of Customs in the domestic market or their export to any foreign country.
The bill proposed that the dumping of confiscated smuggled sugar in Customs custody should be done in the presence of representatives from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), the sugar industry and other parties concerned.
Under existing laws, smuggled sugar confiscated by the Bureau of Customs would be classified by the SRA as "D" or world market sugar so that it could be shipped out of the country, Lacson said.
The Bureau of Customs would conduct a public action among sugar traders and exporters for the purpose of shipping the sugar out of the country, he said.
Classified as "D," the confiscated smuggled sugar would be sold at world sugar prices, or a third of domestic sugar prices, Lacson said.
He added that sugar smugglers, in connivance with unscrupulous sugar traders and exporters, usually bought the confiscated smuggled sugar from the Bureau of Customs auction.
"The smuggled sugar eventually finds its way to its intended destination, the domestic market where retail prices are almost four times that of the world market," Lacson added.
Regardless of efforts made by the SRA and the Sugar Alliance of the Philippines to ensure that domestic sugar prices remain fair to both the consumers and the producers, Lacson said domestic sugar prices have been unstable.
Sugar smuggling not only deprived the government of revenues, it also affected domestic sugar prices to the detriment of Philippine sugar producers, thereby endangering the livelihood of five million Filipinos, he pointed out.
The National Federation of Sugarcane Planters headed by Enrique Rojas earlier urged Negros solons to push for a bill requiring the dumping of confiscated smuggled sugar into the sea.