Amid sugar fiasco, Senate minority pushes for ‘full-time’ farm chief

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – JULY 25: Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. delivers his first State of the Nation Address to lawmakers in the House of Representatives on July 25, 2022 in Manila, the minority Senate bloc disputed the findings of the Blue Ribbon Committee on the “sugar fiasco” that resulted from Sugar Order No. 4. (PHOTO: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

The minority Senate bloc has called on Speaker Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is also the self-proclaimed agriculture chief, to appoint a “full-time agriculture secretary” as soon as possible amid the recent sugar fiasco that s is produced under his direction.

In their report released Tuesday, September 13, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Senator Risa Hontiveros challenged the findings of the Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) which absolved Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez for the controversial import. 300,000 metric tons. sugar.

“Executive Secretary Victor D. Rodriguez is not entirely blameless in the so-called fiasco behind Sugar Ordinance No. 4,” the report read.

“We believe the committee report failed to make sense of this fiasco. Nakakapagtakang may nagaganap pang bolahan, takipan, sisihan, bintangan, at laglagan (It’s baffling how much nonsense, cover-ups, blame and betrayals have happened),” Hontiveros said at a press conference.

Minority senators also noted the Senate panel’s “silence” on Rodriguez’s accountability.

“It was clear to us from the start that all communications related to the OS 4 release were timely and clearly communicated to the Executive Secretary. However, the Executive Secretary’s unilateral decision to sit down contributed to the debacle,” said Hontiveros.

They added that the committee report (CR) 354, which was released by the head of the BRC and Senator Francis Tolentino, “failed or deliberately abstained” from Rodriguez in the sugar saga.

In addition, Pimentel and Hontiveros said there was “no basis” to bring corruption and smuggling charges against four Department of Agriculture (DA) officials involved, namely: the Under Secretary to agriculture suspended Leocadio Sebastian, the resigned head of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Hermenegildo Serafica and the SRA board. members Roland Beltran and Aurelio Gerardo Valderama Jr.

The senators said the Agriculture officials involved “acted in good faith” and called them “scapegoats” and “scapegoats” in the fiasco.

However, the two minority members said they would leave the filing of charges against Rodriguez to law enforcement.

“We won’t be recommending charges against the executive secretary. In fact, my staff and I discussed whether there were violations of the criminal provisions. I said, ‘Let’s not look for any. Let it be right on their conscience,” Pimentel said.

Production of sugar for domestic use

Meanwhile, the President, who also sits in the chair of the SRA as Head of Agriculture, signed Sugar Ordinance (OS) No 1 grading all sugar produced in the country for the campaign agricultural 2022-2023 as “B” sugar, or for the internal sugar market.

It is in the midst of the current sugar shortage that the country is experiencing in addition to the sugar saga under the watch of Marcos Jr.

The August 26 order was posted on the SRA’s website on Tuesday.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Filipino politics and events. She regularly follows global and local events. She defends animal welfare and freedom of the press. Follow her on Twitter @polarubyo for regular news and cat posts.

Watch more videos on Yahoo:

Rachel J. Bradford