MALAYBALAY CITY(MindaNews / 03 January) — Intelligence agents of the Bureau of Customs raided on Aug. 23 a warehouse of Crystal Sugar Milling Company in Maramag, Bukidnon and reportedly found 466,142 bags of sugar.
The Office of the Press Secretary, in a news release the day after the raid, called the BoC’s action in Maramag a raid versus hoarders ordered by President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
Javier Sagarbarria, resident manager of the company denied in a press conference on August 25 that they were hoarding stocks.
He said most of the stocks in their warehouse had been sold to traders but had not been withdrawn.
“A single infraction can close our company forever. We cannot take that risk,” he said.
Crystal Sugar is owned by Pablo L. Lobregat, who is also chair of the Philippine Sugar Millers Association.
The Bureau of Customs in a press release posted on its website on August 26 described what happened in the warehouse as a “surprise inspection.” It said the Bureau of Cutoms-Port of Cagayan de Oro, “together with representatives of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and Sugar Regulatory Administration, conducted a surprise inspection of the Crystal Sugar Company Inc. sugar warehouse.”
It said the team showed a Letter of Authority and a Mission Order to warehouse personnel and proceeded to inspect the facility “as part of the government’s relentless campaign to bring down the price of sugar.”
The composite team on August 24 also inspected the BUSCO Sugar Milling Corporation in Barangay Butong, Quezon, also in Bukidnon. The press release quoted BUSCO Officer-In-Charge Ellen B. Villaflora as saying the warehouse contained 110,674 bags of sugar, 26,000 of which are raw and the rest refined and that traders have been withdrawing 10 to 15 thousand bags per day.
Some sectors blamed hoarding for the reported shortage of the commodity in local markets, triggering an increase in the prices sugar and products that use it as ingredient like soft drinks.
Hoarding of basic commodities like sugar is punishable under Republic Act 7581. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno / MindaNews)
Bukidnon sugar firm executive denies product hoarding