Sugar shortage not artificial, group says

August 30, 2022
Philippine Daily Inquirer |

MANILA, Philippines —The Philippine Sugar Millers Association (PSMA) disputes the claims of Malacañang and some senators that an artificial sugar shortage exists in the country.

During the Tuesday Senate blue ribbon panel hearing, Senator Risa Hontiveros asked PSMA President Pablo Lobregat whether or not the country is experiencing a scarcity of sugar.

Lobregat responded: “I do not believe that it is artificial.”

For Lobregat, the soaring sugar prices can be traced back to the temporary restraining orders (TROs) on sugar importation issued in Negros Occidental and the fallout of the national and local elections.

Early this year, the Regional Trial Court Branch 73 in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, released a ruling imposing a 20-day restraining order against the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA) importation plan.

“One of the causes of the prices going up was the delay caused by the TROs issued in Negros that refined [sugar] that was supposed to come in March, only came in practically May,” Lobregat said.

“The other thing that happened was the elections caused paralysis in most government agencies until the new administration came on line,” the official added.

Earlier, the SRA posted on its website Sugar Order No. 4, authorizing the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, which Malacañang then disputed.

Palace and industry stakeholders, however, agreed on the proposed 150,000 metric tons of sugar imports to address supply woes.

While the PSMA favored the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, the group said that even the lesser volume of planned sugar importation is better than none at all.

“When it was being proposed during a meeting I attended in Malacañang, what was being pushed was 150,000 [metric tons], I said, ‘anything is better than nothing,'” said Lobregat.