Marcos urged to appoint new DA chief amid sugar importation mess, industry woes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 18)— Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday called on President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. to reconsider his post as Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary and appoint a "full time" official who would focus on sugar issues and other industry woes.

In a statement, Hontiveros urged Marcos to address what she labeled as "deeply problematic" leadership issues in the agency.

"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.

The senator stressed that the recent controversy with the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA)—which has been entangled in the supposed illegal importation order of the commodity—is just the "tip of the iceberg."

"Kapag tumaas ang presyo ng asukal, magmamahal din ang presyo ng maraming produkto at bilihin," Hontiveros said.

"Hindi pwedeng part-time job ang pagtutok sa krisis na ito. Kailangan natin ng magaling at maayos na secretary sa DA na full-time na tutulong sa mga magsasaka at konsumer," she added, noting that Marcos is already leading numerous offices.

[Translation: When the price of sugar increases, the costs of many other products and commodities will follow suit. Focusing on this crisis should not be a part-time job. We need a competent, full time DA secretary who will help our farmers and consumers.]

Malacañang has yet to comment on the matter.

Marcos earlier announced there will be a top-level reshuffle in the SRA following the importation fiasco, which has also prompted some officials to step down.

The President, however, welcomed the possibility of bringing in 150,000 MT of imported sweeteners later in the year if supply dwindles.

READ: Stakeholders back govt plan to import 150,000 MT of sugar