Former SRA chief Serafica facing 15 days prison time, P30,000 fine

SRA logo and Hermenegildo Serafica photos superimposed on sacks of brown and white sugar
Former Sugar Regulatory Administrator (SRA) Hermenegildo Serafica. (Photos: Getty Images; Serafica – Sugar_Phils/Twitter)

Former Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) chief Hermenegildo Serafica will face 15 days prison time and would have to pay P30,000 for indirect contempt of court.

According to Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) vs. Serra, “A person who is guilty of disobedience or of resistance to a lawful order of a court or who commits any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice may be punished for indirect contempt.

The fine and warrant of arrest were ordered by Negros Occidental Judge Walter Zorilla of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 55 on Monday (September 26).

Serafica supposedly “willfully disregarded and manifestly disobeyed the writ of preliminary injunction” issued by Zorilla, who warned the former to stop the importation of sugar under Sugar Order No. 3 s. 2021-2022. But Serafica allowed the importation of 200,000 metric tons (MT) last May, under SRA Memorandum Circular No. 11.

The former SRA chief argued that the writ of preliminary injunction was only applicable in the 6th Judicial Region (Western Visayas), hence SRA Memorandum Circular No. 11 specifying that it would import sugar except for Region 6.

Zorilla responded, “Clearly, there is absolutely nothing in the preliminary injunction that enjoined the implementation of Sugar Order No. 3 only in the 6th Judicial Region.”

Serafica believes he acted in good faith. But pointing out that he was the sole signatory in the Memorandum Circular, the judge mentioned that “There is no way the court can uphold [his] claim of good faith to vindicate his blatant disrespect of this court’s jurisdiction.”

Following the importation fiasco last August, Serafica resigned as administrator after then-Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian resigned over the controversial Sugar Order No. 4.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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