(Contributed photo)

MANILA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has acknowledged that there may be a need to import sugar to stabilize domestic prices of the commodity but noted that the Philippines may only need 150,000 metric tons (MT), half of the 300,000 MT earlier proposed by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

In his weekly vlog uploaded on Sunday night, Marcos said the government may import up to 150,000 MT of sugar if the supply is depleted by October.

Maari bandang Oktubre, baka 'yung supply na nandito sa Pilipinas ay pa-ubos na. Baka sakali ay kailangan natin mag-import pero kakaunti lang. Hindi kasing dami ng kanilang sinasabi dati na 300,000 [metric] tons. Eh siguro malaki na ‘yung 150,000 [metric] tons para sa buong taon na ito (There is a possibility that by October, our supply in the Philippines will be depleted. We might need to import, but only a few, not as much as the [metric] 300,000 tons they said before. Perhaps 150,000 [metric] tons would be good for the entire year),” he said.

Marcos, the concurrent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and SRA chairperson, maintained there is no sugar supply shortage.

He also stressed the need to cut down imports to the barest minimum, noting that more imports would cause a struggle for Filipino farmers.

Nakita ko naman may sapat na supply dito na nandito na sa Pilipinas. So sabi ko, bakit di natin unahin ‘yan dahil ‘yan ay galing dito sa Pilipinas at meron na rin tayong na-import noon na naka-imbentaryo ngayon. So bago tayo mag-import ng panibagong asukal dapat sabi ko ubusin muna natin ang supply dito (I saw that there is enough supply in the Philippines. So, I said, why don't we prioritize that because that is from the Philippines and we have also imported something that is now in inventory. So, before we import more sugar, we should use up the supply here first),” he added.

Marcos said he is implementing the same policy for other food imports such as rice and wheat.

Ang mahirap talaga dito, ayaw na ayaw natin mag-import. Ngunit kung hindi sapat ang supply ng pagkain, mapipilitan talaga tayo mag-import dahil kung hindi tayo mag-import at mababa ang supply, magtaasan naman ang presyo. Hindi natin maaring gawin ‘yun sa taong bayan (The really difficult thing here is that we do not want to import. But if the supply of food is not enough, we will be forced to import because if we do not import and the supply is low, the prices will increase. We cannot do that to the people),” he said.

While the government is in the process of boosting food production, Marcos reiterated that imports are necessary but will be done as “little as possible”.

Habang ang production pa natin ay inaayos pa natin, napipilitan tayo mag-import ngunit tiyakin natin na ‘yung importation hindi naman sobra, hindi naman sobra-sobra dun sa pangangailangan at meron namang supply dito sa Pilipinas (While we are still adjusting our production, we are forced to import but let's make sure that the importation is not too much, it is not too much of the demand and there is supply here in the Philippines),” he added.

On Wednesday, the Palace announced that Marcos junked the proposal to import 300,000 MT of sugar following reports that claimed that the President has allowed the importation through an order he supposedly signed.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles denied the authenticity of the order.

Currently, the unauthorized signing of the order on behalf of Marcos is under investigation.

Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian has resigned from his post at the DA after admitting that the President did not give his authorization for the issuance of the order. (PNA)