P220 million worth of hoarded sugar seized in three raids

The Philippines has a big problem with regards to sugar which unsurprisingly sparked a wave of news. The three leading softdrinks makers made a joint statement about the declining supply of sugar in the country while stores and local food joints claimed they are affected by the sugar shortage. The local bakers have been affected as well.

There is, however, good news here. Recently agents of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) conducted raids which resulted in the seizure of several sacks of hoarded sugar estimated to be worth more than P200 million, according to a BusinessWorld report. Make no mistake, the government is working to solve the sugar problem.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the BusinessWorld news report. Some parts in boldface…

CUSTOMS agents seized 44,000 sacks of hoarded sugar worth P220 million in separate raids north of Manila, the capital on Wednesday and Thursday as part of a crackdown amid rising sugar prices and tight supply.

The agents and police raided two warehouses in Bulacan province and another in Pampanga on orders of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., who is also Agriculture secretary, the Bureau of Customs (BoC) said in a statement.

“The BoC’s Pampanga sugar warehouse raid may very well serve as a warning to unscrupulous traders who are currently hoarding their stocks of sugar in order to profit from the current artificial sugar shortage situation,” Executive Secretary Victor D. Rodriguez said in a separate statement.

The government might visit more warehouses in the coming days, Press Secretary Trixie-Cruz Angeles told a news briefing.

Mr. Rodriguez earlier said the government was investigating reports that certain traders were pushing the imports of 300,000 metric tons of sugar so they could use it as a cover to release hoarded sugar, which they have not sold for fear of lowering prices.

The Sugar Regulatory Administration had authorized the imports, which Mr. Marcos later rejected. Three of the officials who signed the order have quit their jobs.

“Reports reaching the Office of the Executive Secretary said such massive importation of sugar could result in windfall profits for the traders of at least P300 million with a portion of the amount earmarked as lobby money,” Mr. Rodriguez said.

The Customs bureau is investigating reports that the Pampanga warehouse had long been smuggling sugar from Thailand, repacking and then selling it as local sugar, the presidential palace said.

Like the Pampanga warehouse, the two warehouses in Bulacan were also suspected of storing smuggled goods.

The agents also found imported corn starch from China, sacks of imported flour, plastic products, oil in plastic barrels, motorcycle parts and wheels of different brands, helmets, LED TVs and paints inside the Pampanga warehouse.

Authorities have given the warehouse owners 15 days to present import documents, the palace said.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this recent development? Is your household or your business somehow affected by the ongoing sugar problem? How much did you pay for a kilogram of sugar recently compared to six months ago? Did you notice any sugar-related products like softdrinks, candy, ice cream and coffee lacking in supply in the local groceries and convenience stores? Was there a local coffee shop that failed to serve you a specific drink or food item because of a lack of sugar?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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