Group open to dialogue with Marcos on sugar industry woes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 13) — A group of sugar producers on Saturday said it is open to meet President Bongbong Marcos--who's also the Agriculture secretary--to discuss issues hounding the industry.

"Mr. President, we're very much willing to sit down with you and discuss the problems of the sugar industry," United Sugar Producers Federation president Manuel Lamata told CNN Philippines' Newsroom Weekend.

He also called on the President to conduct a national survey on sugar stocks after requests were supposedly ignored by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

"We want to find out exactly how much sugar stocks we have in the country. Ipasurvey nyo po lahat ng sugar mills, lahat ng bodega, lahat ng traders na may mga bodega [Survey the sugar mills, traders with warehouses]. The listings are with the SRA," Lamata said.

"Itong ginagawa ni Administrator Serafica po [What Administrator Serafica is doing], he is shielding, he is helping these hoarders keep the sugar because he refuses to have it surveyed. This guy is keeping the sugar to the advantage of the traders...So dapat maghinto na 'yan [that should stop]," he added.

CNN Philippines is trying to reach SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica for comment.

UNIFED earlier said there is no problem in the supply of sugar in the country but traders are driving retail prices to "unreasonable levels."

READ: No shortage of sugar in PH, but middlemen inflate retail price, group says

On Friday, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles confirmed the resignation of Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian over the sugar importation mess.

The President himself rejected on Wednesday the proposal to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar.