By Hannah Torregoza
Otso Diretso senatorial candidate Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV on Thursday asked the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Agriculture (DA) to end the blame game and immediately address the rising cost of sugar despite the stable supply in the market and low mill gate prices.
Aquino, who is running in the upcoming May 2019 midterm elections, said the DA must look into reports made by Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) officials that sugar prices in the wholesale and retail levels are being manipulated.
At the same time, the senator said the DTI should activate the Price Coordinating Council, which it chairs, to protect consumers from unjust increases in sugar prices.
He said both the DA and DTI must join forces in looking into alleged price manipulation of traders and retailers despite steady farmgate price from the sugar mills and find ways to stop the increase in prices of sugar, which has an average price of P60 per kilo in the market.
“Let’s stop the blame game. Let’s unite to protect the public who consume sugar,” Aquino said.
“Government agencies should really look into this because as far as we can see, there are no problems with the production. Only that some people are manipulating the price to benefit from it,” the lawmaker pointed out.
Aquino has been vocal against the government’s plan to import sugar, saying that unabated importation would lead to the death of the sugar industry.
Aquino said the government’s plan is dangerous and worrisome as it would affect the livelihood of local sugar farmers once the markets start to sell imported sugar.
“With unrestricted sugar importation, our poor farmers and their families are robbed of their livelihood,” he lamented.
“Instead of allowing the unabated entry of sugar into the market, the government should give small farmers the needed resources to improve their livelihood,” he reiterated.