Belated clearance won’t justify unauthorized sugar importation – Pimentel
MANILA, Philippines — The clearance that Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) belatedly issued would not justify the unauthorized entry of the sugar shipment from Thailand, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III insisted on Monday.
Pimentel, a lawyer, pointed out that sugar is regarded as a “highly regulated commodity” that necessitated the establishment of the SRA as a regulatory agency in 1986.
He said the laws and other existing policies on importation clearly mandated that the SRA should be involved in crafting guidelines before bringing in sugar from other countries.
“All important developments and decisions involving sugar should, from the very start, have the participation of and inputs from the SRA,” Pimentel told the Inquirer.
“Since the SRA is a government agency funded by people’s money, then we expect some kind of formality, transparency and public participation in their processes,” he said.
Pimentel said there should be “no surprises” in the importation of the agricultural commodity, apparently in reference to Panganiban’s admission that the sugar shipment arrived at the Port of Batangas prior to the issuance of Sugar Order No. 6 on Feb. 15.