Palace: Sugar import order ‘illegal,’ heads may roll

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles: “It appears that the resolution [SRA Sugar Order no. 4] was signed for and on behalf of the President by [Agriculture] Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian. He was not authorized to sign such a resolution because the President did not authorize the importation.”

August 11, 2022

The Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA) Sugar Order no. 4, allowing the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, is “illegal” and has not been authorized by the President, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles told reporters in a Palace press briefing on Thursday.

Angeles reiterated that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is the chairperson of the Sugar Regulatory Board (SRB) and that he did not sign the said order.

“No such meeting was authorized by the President, [and] such a resolution likewise was not authorized,” she said.

She further revealed that Marcos did not authorize Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian to sign the order on his behalf.

“It appears that the resolution was signed for and on behalf of the President by Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian. He was not authorized to sign such a resolution because the President did not authorize the importation,” she clarified.

Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez, she noted, merely asked the SRA to “create an importation plan.”

“Importations are a sensitive matter, particularly with regard to agricultural importations. Sugar is one such importation which we take great care with. It is a balancing act,” she noted.

“The importation has to be carefully studied to protect both the consumer against the rising prices of basic commodities while ensuring at the same time that we do not destroy the local industry.”

Officials of the SRA are “being investigated” for convening without the President — as SRA chairperson  — present and issuing an order without authorization from him, Angeles said. The investigation will determine “whether any acts that would cause the President to lose trust and confidence in his officials can be found or if there is malice or negligence involved.”

“In such a case, if such findings are made, then the only determination left would be how many heads are going to roll,” she said.

The order allowing the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar was uploaded on SRA’s official website on Wednesday morning but was removed hours later when Malacañang announced that the President had rejected the plan to import the sweetener.

 


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