Senator Imee Marcos has warned that the government is about to violate the law in resuming the importation of 200,000 metric tons of sugar despite two court orders suspending it.
Marcos, who chairs the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, said that the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) on Tuesday issued Memorandum Circular No. 11 announcing that applications to import sugar have resumed.
“This defies two temporary restraining orders (TRO’s) issued by the Sagay and Himamaylan regional trial courts in Negros Occidental earlier this year,” Marcos explained.
The Sagay court’s order in February specifically instructed the SRA “to maintain the status quo to be effective until the termination of this case unless earlier lifted.”
Marcos added that the SRA circular’s exclusion of Western Visayas from eligibility for import applications was “a circumvention of the court orders coming from the region.”
Court hearings are still being held to resolve the conflict between the government and two leading groups of sugar planters that sought the TRO’s – the United Sugar Producers Federation (Unifed) and the Rural Sugar Planters Association Inc.
“The brazen attempt to import sugar despite its suspension points to a real midnight deal before the present administration steps down from office at the end of June,” Marcos said, citing that the next court hearing has yet to take place on June 28.
Unifed told Marcos’s office on Wednesday that it was poised to file cases against Agriculture Secretary William Dar and SRA chief Hermenegildo Serafica for “contempt of court.”
Both government officials contend that a sugar shortage could occur later this year due to the damage wrought by Typhoon Odette last December, even as sugar planters remain confident of being able to meet the country’s sugar needs.(PR)