NATIONAL Federation of Sugarcane Planters of the Philippines (NFSP) president Enrique D. Rojas stands pat on statement that there is sugar smuggling in Cebu.

This, even though Atty. Ronnie C. Silvestre, the Bureau of Customs' (BOC) district collector for the port of Cebu, denied the existence of sugar smuggling in his area of responsibility.

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"The National Federation of Sugarcane Planters, Inc. stands by its statement on the presence of smuggled sugar in Cebu and has received reports from its members on this fact," Rojas said in his letter dated July 16 to Silvestre.

Rojas said that, in all the recent anti-smuggling operations conducted in Cebu, an officer of the Sugar Regulatory Administration's (SRA) Cebu office was present.

The official report of the SRA officer "confirms that indeed anti-smuggling operations were conducted in Cebu, and we understand SRA will submit this report to concerned departments and agencies for proper action," Rojas stressed.

The letter was in reaction to a communication dated July 13, which Silvestre sent to Rojas. Silvestre's July 13 letter was in reaction to the letter of Rojas dated July 12.

In that letter, Rojas provided Silvestre with details of anti-smuggling operations in Cebu conducted by the joint operatives of the Sugar Anti-Smuggling Office (Saso), the Philippine National Police, SRA, and the BOC.

Rojas based his July 12 letter on the report of Gen. Joel Goltiao (ret), head of the Saso.

In his July 13 letter, Silvestre vehemently denied that BOC-Cebu personnel took part in the apprehension of smuggled sugar in Cebu. He also denied that the apprehended sugar was turned over to his office.

"Please be informed that this office has neither issued a mission order to our personnel relative to the confiscation of sugar on July 2 and 9, 2010 nor was there a single kilo of sugar which was turned over to this office," Silvestre stated in his letter to Rojas.

Further, Silvestre invited Rojas to "visit our office so we could probably discuss the issue with your association for us to become partners and come up with proactive plans to eradicate sugar smuggling in Cebu."

In his reply, Rojas stated, "You yourself confirmed the presence of smuggled sugar in Cebu, in your letter of July 13, 2010, when you invited me and my association to visit your office to 'come up with proactive plans to eradicate sugar smuggling in Cebu.'" (Butch Bacaoco)