ES not blameless, says minority report

Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez is “not blameless” in the recent sugar importation fiasco, the Senate minority bloc said Tuesday.

In a joint press conference, the Senate minority bloc, composed of Senators Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Risa Hontiveros, released their findings on the sugar importation mess.

Contrary to the findings of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that conducted three hearings over the issue, Pimentel said Rodriguez played a huge role in the creation of Sugar Order 4.

“Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez is not entirely blameless in the so-called fiasco behind Sugar Order No. 4,” Pimentel said, referring to the “illegal” resolution, that supposedly would have authorized the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar into the country.

Likewise, Hontiveros raised the “silence” of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the “inefficiency” of Rodriguez which led to the creation of the resolution.

“It was unfortunate that the Blue Ribbon report had failed or purposely refrained to discuss the part played by Executive Secretary Rodriguez in this unfortunate debacle,” she said.

“It was clear to us early on that all communications related to the issuance of SO No. 4 were timely and clearly communicated to the Executive Secretary. However, the Executive Secretary’s unilateral decision to sit on it contributed to the debacle,” she added.

The minority bloc also opposed the recommendation to file criminal and administrative charges against suspended Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, former Sugar Regulatory Administration chief HermegenildoSerafica, and former Sugar Board members Roland Beltran and Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr.

“It was baseless. It will be an injustice for them if they will be charged with cases. This administration should not pick on someone who is just doing their work,” Hontiveros said.

Pimentel also noted the panel’s recommendation to file charges against the former officials who were signatories of the resolution is “undeserved, uncalled for, and unjustified.”

Hontiveros reiterated that Rodriguez played a role in the sugar importation fiasco, however, she said she will leave it to the authorities whether the official should be charged.

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