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MANILA, Philippines – During an event the government described as a rare meeting among sugar stakeholders in Malacañang on Wednesday, May 17, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. raised the possible revival of the defunct Philippine Sugar Corporation (PhilSuCor).
Established by his namesake and late father, the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1983, PhilSuCor’s primary objective was to finance “the acquisition, rehabilitation and/or expansion of sugar mills, refineries, and other related facilities.”
During that period, critics described the PhilSucor as among the institutions which perpetuated the monopoly of the sugar industry by Roberto Benedicto, a fraternity brother and classmate of the Marcos patriarch at the UP Law school.
“One of the suggestions that came up during the meeting was to revitalize PhilSuCor,” said Marcos.
“Titingnan natin kung ano ‘yung mga pagbabago para makapag-adjust tayo dito sa sitwasyon natin ngayon and continue their work in providing assistance sa ating mga farmers, sa ating mga farmer groups,” he added.
(Let’s see what new things we can implement so we can adjust to our present situation and continue their assistance for farmers, groups.)
In 2018, former president Rodrigo Duterte ordered PhilSuCor’s abolition, as it was deemed redundant with the existence of the Sugar Regulatory Administration.
‘First in a long time’
The Presidential Communications Office said the gathering of sugar industry stakeholders was the ‘first in a long time,’ though the government information agency did not provide details to back up this claim.
Present during the meeting were Manuel Lamata of the United Sugar Producers Federation, Cornelio Toreja of Luzon Federation of Sugar Producers Inc., Petie Sumagaysay of Kabankalan-Ilog Planters Association, Lance Gokongwei of Universal Robina Corp., and Gareth McGeown, representing the domestic traders of Coca-Cola.
Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, and SRA acting administrator Pablo Luis S. Azcona were also present.
Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban attended the Malacañang meeting too. Panganiban was recently under fire for skipping the Senate probe on May 8 on the sugar fiasco. Panganiban said he was on official mission in Washington during that time.
During the meeting, Marcos and stakeholders also talked about the importation schedule of 150,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar and how the country should open the importation to all traders.
Last Monday, May 15, Marcos approved the additional importation of sugar to stabilize prices. The country needs to import more sugar to cover the 3.1 million MT demand, as local production and approved imports were not enough.
The sugar industry is reeling from a crisis and alleged cartels. Since last year, the SRA has seen executives step down in light of the sugar import mess. – Rappler.com