Thieves must suffer

The drafting of the order was mostly done in secrecy and communications among the board members were only through emails or text messages with some members not being seen even once within the SRA compound.

By TEB

September 5, 2022

Getting to the bottom of the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s Sugar Order 4 — which would have rammed through a massive importation of the sweetener had it not been recalled by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. — would require probers to clash head-on with big business that has long lorded it over the economy.

In short, the legislators would have to discard influence from some of their benefactors that in the real world is nearly impossible. SRA insiders point to collusion among traders, some of the biggest millers and large sugar users such as beverage bottlers having created an artificial situation conducive to importation.

The fundamental reason is that the country’s neighbors sell the commodity at P400 less per bag which translates to about P800,000 savings per metric ton.

The probe will move faster if SRA insiders are asked about how they were excluded from the decision-making in the drafting of SO 4 which was known only to the SRA board of Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian and directors Roland Beltran and Aurelio Valderrama.

The drafting of the order was mostly done in secrecy and communications among the board members were only through emails or text messages with some members not being seen even once within the SRA compound.

The data, which Serafica said was the basis for his drafting of SO 4 as (he claimed) it showed a looming shortage, also proved to have been manipulated to fit the massive 300,000 metric tons proposal.

SO 4 was in contrast with the SRA deputies’ recommendation to the DA and the Office of the President to import only 155,000 metric tons.

The importation program was the result instead of the meeting of minds of Serafica and millers, who then brought the 300,000 MT proposal to planters who were made to believe that the figure came direct from President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos.

This was disproved after Mr. Marcos recalled SO 4 which senators noted was rushed into having legal effectivity.

The so-called referendum among the SRA board members was also nothing but a routing of SO 4 for approval and the subsequent signing of Sebastian on behalf of The President.

Former Sugar Regulatory Administration chief Hermenegildo Serafica admitted before the Senate that the referendum conducted to pass SO 4 was not approved by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who also sits as agriculture chief.

The board pushed through with the approval of the order despite not having any response from BBM on their proposal to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar which was established during the Senate hearing.

The excuse of Serafica was that the importation was needed immediately as a response to an emergency situation.

Later on, inspections conducted by the government showed huge mountains of sugar stored in warehouses of the millers who Serafica conspired with in drafting SO 4.

The only emergency that Serafica and company had made evident thus far is the need to make a fast buck at the expense of the government.


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