Usec Panganiban admits to rushing through sugar imports | Inquirer News

Usec Panganiban admits to rushing through sugar imports

By: - Reporter / @JMangaluzINQ
/ 05:50 PM February 22, 2023

DA claims misinterpretation cause of alleged state-sponsored sugar smuggling

DA Undersecretary and Sugar Board chairperson Domingo Panganiban speaks to the media during a press conference on Wednesday, February 22, 2023. Photo screen-capped from Radio Television Malacañang’s video.

MANILA, Philippines —  Agriculture Undersecretary and Sugar Board Chair Domingo Panganiban on Wednesday admitted to making a hasty decision when he told three businesses to import sugar.

In a moment of hurriedness, he said in a press briefing that he mistook the memo from the Office of the Executive Secretary for approval to begin the importation process. He said he was also driven by the desperate need to lower sugar prices.


In a somber tone, he said: “I acted with haste and interpreted the memorandum issued by the Office of the Executive Secretary as an approval to proceed with the importation. With the urgency of the situation, I instructed three capable and accredited companies to proceed with the importation of the sugar, provided that they agree to reduce the prices of sugar.” said Panganiban.


Panganiban pointed out that sugar, an integral component of commodities, was driving up inflation, making the situation urgent.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday reported that the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) imported on the Executive Secretary’s (ES) orders but questioned what basis the ES had to give such orders.

When asked if he knew that the SRA had a process for importation, Panganiban replied: “I know.”

He said that he was acting upon the directive of the Executive Secretary on what he thought was a “sugar order.”

The three companies involved in the importation were also named in Hontiveros’ report: Sucden Philippines, Inc., Edison Lee Marketing Corp., and All Asian Countertrade Inc.

In a later interview, ES Undersecretary Leonardo Roy Cervantes said that the Bureau of Customs indeed required clearance from the SRA to release the importation, but he did not confirm or deny if the imported sugar was illegal or not when asked by the media.


“I could not reply, or categorically say yes or no right now,” said Cervantes.


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TAGS: import, sugar

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