Marcos asked to appoint a new agriculture chief amid sugar mess

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MANILA — Sen. Risa Hontiveros urged President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday to resolve the problematic leadership of the Department of Agriculture by appointing a new chief in the light of the sugar importation mess, which the opposition legislator said is merely a part of a larger and more complex issues plaguing the agency.

Marcos took on the agriculture portfolio after being elected president, citing the need to halt rapidly growing food prices.

However, controversy arose when officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, an associated agency of the DA, allowed the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar allegedly without the president’s approval.

Malacañang alleged that Marcos’ signature on the importation order was forged and that the president had rejected the plan to import sugar.

“The president should reconsider his position and appoint a competent person who would take charge of the DA, end all controversies in the department, and focus on helping farmers and ensuring adequate food supply in the country,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

She stated that having Marcos undertake the duties of agriculture chief would result in “confusion and dysfunction in the bureaucracy,” citing the fact that the president is already in charge of various government agencies and the military.

“As clearly shown by the situation in the DA, it is very difficult to do all of those responsibilities and at the same time focus on the myriad of programs that must be handled by the DA Secretary,” Hontiveros said.

According to Marcos, he is considering to reorganize the SRA after the botched sugar importation and is going to assess how much inventory is left and whether the government would need to import elsewhere.

The problem has already been outlined in Sugar Order No. 4, as the raw sugar inventory will be less than 35,231 metric tons by the end of August.

The controversial order also indicated that half of the supposed 300,000 import quota will go to industrial users, while the rest will be divided between producers and traders. 

National Economic and Development Authority Sec. Arsenio Balisacan said the price of sugar has been rising at a pace of 5% since the start of the year.

House committees to hold hearings during break

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Spread the loveMANILA – The House of Representatives has authorized for its committees to conduct hearings during the five-week congressional break, extending until late April.