ES attends Senate hearing, denies link to SO4

I would like to sincerely apologize if we have to resort to the issuance of a subpoena to compel my presence today.

Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez (Photo by Joey Sanchez Mendoza)

September 7, 2022

Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez has vehemently denied that he gave the go-signal to pass the controversial Sugar Order No. 4 during the resumption of the Senate hearing Tuesday.

“I deny there was a signal from my end that I have given them the go-ahead to pass that resolution or the Sugar Order No. 4 calling for the importation of more or less 300,000 metric tons of sugar,” he said, referring to the Sugar Regulatory Authority.

The executive secretary attended the panel’s third hearing Tuesday after skipping the initial hearings upon the instructions of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

But after he received a subpoena from the Senate panel, Rodriguez showed up and went straight to the office of Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri.

He apologized to the senators for skipping the previous hearing of the panel, adding that he does not intend to disrespect the institution.

“I would like to sincerely apologize if we have to resort to the issuance of a subpoena to compel my presence today,” he said.

“I have no intention whatsoever to disrespect the honorable members of the Senate and the Senate as an institution,” he added.

The executive secretary insisted that the SO4 issued by the SRA has no basis.

The SO4 authorizes the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar into the country,

He belied the claim of resigned SRA chief HermenegildoSerafica that Marcos mentioned the importation of 600,000 metric tons of the commodity during an online meeting on 4 August.

“The president did not mention any amount of sugar to be imported. That’s why we were stuck in the importation plan because we were not convinced we needed to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar,” he said.

“There is no truth that the 600,000 metric tons figure came from the President. The President was not even convinced with 300,000 metric tons importation, why would he say that we need 600,000 metric tons?” he asked.

During a previous hearing, Serafica said that in an online meeting on 4 August, the president had floated the idea of importing 600,000 metric tons of sugar into the country.

Valderama, who was in the online meeting, corroborated Serafica’s statement.

The figure, however, was not approved, according to Serafica, stressing that “it was too much” and farmers are about to start milling their harvest, he added.

‘Committee set to release report

After the termination of the panel’s third hearing, Senator Francis Tolentino, chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said the panel may release its report within this week.

“I wasn’t able to mention it to SP (Senate President), God-willing by Thursday, we will have the committee report. There is no more hearing on Thursday, we will come up with the report,” Tolentino said in a press conference.

He noted that the recommendation will include the filing of charges against certain individuals, which he did not disclose.

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