CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BoC) and Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) led the inspection of three warehouses of the Crystal Sugar Milling Company in North Poblacion, Maramag town, on suspicion that the firm was hoarding sugar stocks.
The inspectors found 466,142 sacks of sugar and then left without citing the company for any violation. The sacks of sugar were left untouched, and the warehouses were left as is – open and accessible to Crystal Sugar.
Javier Sagarbarria, Crystal Sugar’s resident manager, cried foul and denied that the company was hoarding sugar contrary to allegations.
He criticized the inspectors for giving the company bad publicity, saying Crystal Sugar has established a name and has been operating in Bukidnon for more than 30 years.
The company is owned by Pablo Lobregat, the president of Philippine Sugar Millers Association (PMSA).
Sagarbarria said the company has been operating a mill plant in Maramag town, one of the two sugar milling sites in Bukidnon, Northern Mindanao’s main sugar producer.
He said the company mills around 2 million sacks of sugar from the produce of sugarcane farms in Bukidnon. The firm owns 34% of the milled sugar while 66% belongs to farmers.
“We are a milling company and not a marketing firm. Naturally, we produce millions of sacks a year,” Sagarbarria said.
Sagarbarria said that when the Customs and SRA personnel arrived on Tuesday, there were 466,142 sacks of sugar in the warehouses, and that 264,000 belonged to Bukidnon’s sugarcane planters.
“We do not have control as to whom the farmers would like to sell their sugar. We only control our share,” he said.
Besides, Sagarbarria said, all sugar shipments were strictly being monitored by the SRA which has been posting its representatives outside their warehouses. The practice, he said, is common in all sugar milling plants in the country.
“A single infraction could mean the closure of our company forever. We cannot take that risk,” he said.
BoC officials in Cagayan de Oro have not provided details of the alleged raid and neither was it clear if it was pressing charges against Crystal Sugar. – Rappler.com