Pangilinan likens TRO’d sugar importation to Pharmally scam

Pangilinan likens TRO’d sugar importation to Pharmally scam

Vice-presidential aspirant Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Friday welcomed the decision of Sagay City’s Regional Trial Court Branch 73 in its issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the importation of 200,000 metric tons of refined sugar.

In a radio interview here, Pangilinan said the court is within its rights to issue the injunction, adding that there is no need to import sugar as it is sugar milling season.

“Kaya tama iyang injunction na ‘yan. Isa tayo sa mga tumutol doon sa importation. Bakit ka mag-i-import sa panahon ng milling?” Pangilinan asked.

“Eh talagang walang pakialam sa lokal [na magsasaka]. Inuuna talaga iyong sariling interes at ang kinikita sa importation na yan dahil nakikita nila na pagkakataon nila…Siguro last two minutes, ‘ika nga patapos na sila kaya, humihirit pa sa dulo,” he said of those who ordered the importation.

Negros Occidental is the top sugarcane-producing province in the Philippines, accounting for 54% of the country’s total sugar production.

Pangilinan likened the scheme to the billion-peso Pharmally scam, where government officials behind it were alleged to have received kickbacks from importers.

“Naalala niyo iyong Pharmally? Mayroong sindikato na kasabwat iyong mga opisyal ng gobyerno para unahin ang mga importer, unahin ang mga trader na kumukuha pala sa labas, hindi bumili ng face mask dito sa Pilipinas kahit na mayroon tayong kampanya na nagpo-produce ng 30 million face masks a month,” Pangilinan said.

“Inuna iyong mga pwedeng tongpats (bribe). Ganoon din ang nangyayari dito sa importation ng gulay, asukal, isda… mga iilang importer lang ang nabibigyan ng permit tapos sila ang tiba-tiba. May patong pa. May kasama pang smuggling,” he added.

In an earlier interview, the lawmaker called on the national government to be aggressive in going after government officials who are lining up their pockets at the expense of the Filipino people.

“Dapat talaga matigil itong mga ganitong klase ng sistema kasi kawawa ang ating local farmers dito sa Pilipinas. Nagpapakahirap sila pero ibang lahi ang pinapaburan ng gobyerno. Ibang klase,” Pangilinan said.

Back when he was the food security secretary, Pangilinan led the fight against corruption, especially in bulk government purchases. He ran after smugglers, illegal traders, and even government officials.

“Nasolusyunan na natin iyan noong chairman ako ng NFA Council bilang food security secretary. Unang-una, hinabol, sinuspindi, at sinampahan natin ng kaso ang mga smugglers at kasabwat nila sa gobyerno,” he said in a previous interview.

“Noong panahon na iyon, ni-raid talaga namin kasama ang PNP at NBI ang mga smuggler. Inimbistigahan natin at binuksan natin iyong mga warehouses [kung nasaan ang mga allegedly smuggled rice]. Pati NFA officials sa mga probinsya, sinampahan ng kaso,” he added.

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