Good day. Here are the stories for The Manila Times for Sunday, August 21, 2022.

Marcos revamps SRA amid import mess

PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has reconstituted the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) with three new appointees, Malacañang said on Saturday, following the fiasco caused by the unauthorized approval of an order to import 300,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar. Marcos, who heads the SRA board as Agriculture secretary, appointed David John Thaddeus Alba as acting administrator. Other newly appointed SRA Board members are Pablo Luis Azcona, replacing sugar planters representative Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr.; and Ma. Mitzi Mangwag, replacing sugar millers representative Roland Beltran, who resigned for health reasons. The new appointments come amid calls for Marcos to name a permanent Agriculture secretary by year-end.

Palace mulls direct sugar imports for food firms

THE government is "seriously" considering allowing food manufacturers to import sugar directly to address the shortage in the country, a Palace official said. Press Secretary Rose Beatrix "Trixie" Cruz-Angeles made the statement after Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri disclosed that direct sugar importation by big food and beverage firms was discussed during President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s meeting with stakeholders on Wednesday. In a virtual press briefing on Friday, Cruz-Angeles said there is no final decision yet on the proposal to allow the companies to directly import sugar, but "it is seriously being considered" by the government. The planned direct importation by food manufacturers needs the approval of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), currently headed by Marcos. During a meeting with the members of the Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers Inc. on Tuesday, Marcos also raised the need to assess how the government can increase the supply of quality sugar for food manufacturing to protect local jobs. He said that although there was a need for the country to increase sugar production in the future, the current pressing concerns of food producers must be addressed.

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'Check cold storage facilities for hoarded onions'

AGRICULTURAL groups urged authorities to scrutinize the cold storage facilities of traders when conducting inspections amid a report of red onion hoarding before the Christmas season. Local producers said they are baffled that the retail price of red onions is increasing despite an abundant harvest. Based on the daily monitoring of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Friday, the retail price of red onions ranges from P110 to P170 per kilo.

Industry, labor, MSMEs told: Build 'circle of success'

GO Negosyo founder Jose Maria "Joey" Concepcion 3rd on Saturday said the country's micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), industry, and labor must work together to build a "circle of success" that will generate more jobs for everyone. Concepcion gave this framework as he leads the Jobs group of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC), a group of business leaders that serves as an advisory group to the government on achieving its economic goals.

NCR remains under Alert Level 1

THE Department of Health (DoH) announced on Saturday that the National Capital Region (NCR) with most provinces and cities in the country will remain under Alert Level 1. Occidental Mindoro and Camarines Sur, as well as Poro in Cebu, Talalora in Western Samar, and Binidayan and Pualas in Lanao del Sur were also placed under the more lenient Alert Level 1. The DoH said that based on the current Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases metrics, these locations were now at low risk having met the Covid-19 vaccination thresholds for the target population and senior citizen population. DoH Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire urged the public to support the government's booster vaccination program, as it would hasten the reopening of the economy.

BOI approves Aospi registration

Over to business, the Philippine Board of Investments (BOI) has approved the application for registration of Amazon Operation Services Philippines Inc. (Aospi) as a new services export provider for its Virtual Customer Services (VCS) project in its new business site in the Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. Prior to this project, Aospi had three existing sites across the Philippines: two in Cebu City and one in Metro Manila. The project will commence its commercial operations in September 2022 and is expected to bolster the information technology and business process management (ITBPM) industry in the country as the company's VCS project will provide customer and vendor management services to support Amazon's global retail business and sellers.

PH tackles Vietnam in AVC Cup

In sports, the Creamline Cool Smashers-bannered Philippine team opens its Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Cup for Women campaign against Vietnam on Sunday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City. The match is set at 7 p.m. In the 2018 edition of the AVC Cup for Women, the last tournament held before the biennial tourney was shelved for four years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Philippines and Vietnam finished fifth and ninth, respectively.

Opinion and editorial

Marlen Ronquillo is our front page columnist, as he tackles on importing food still being the "lay of the land".

Today's editorial believes the cable car proposal of Sen. Robin Padilla has its merits. Read a full version on the paper's opinion section or listen to the Voice of the Times.

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For The Manila Times, this is Paulo Dimaapi.