Senator Francis Tolentino: Someone will be held liable for sugar import mess

·Contributor
·2 min read
Senator Francis Tolentino, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said that someone will be held liable for the sugar importation mess. (Photo: Francis Tolentino/Facebook)
Senator Francis Tolentino, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said that someone will be held liable for the sugar importation mess. (Photo: Francis Tolentino/Facebook)

Senator Francis Tolentino, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, said that charges will be filed, and someone will be held liable for the sugar importation mess.

He promised to release the committee report by Thursday (September 8).

During the blue ribbon committee hearing on Tuesday (September 6), former administrator of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), Hermenegildo R. Serafica, revealed that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. supposedly wanted to import 600,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar.

“The president mentioned about a volume of 600,000 MT,” Serafica, who resigned last month due to the controversial Sugar Order (SO) No. 4 that Marcos later vetoed, told the committee.

“And I said that Mr. President, that may be too much because starting Aug. 1, [sugar millers] have already accepted cane delivery from farmers, and anytime this week, they will start milling, and former board member Valderrama can confirm this, your honor,” Serafica added.

Serafica said that Marcos floated this idea during the August 4 “hybrid” meeting, a claim that former SRA board member, Aurelio Gerardo J. Valderrama, affirmed in the same committee hearing.

“This was discussed in our Zoom meeting together with the president and he mentioned the 600,000 but former administrator, Mr. Serafica, said that it might be too much because the milling season was about to open,” Valderrama said.

However, Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez denied the claim.

Wala pong katotohanan na nanggaling kay Pangulong Marcos yung 600,000 MT … Kung yung 300,000 nga ho ay hindi kumbinsido ang Pangulo, bakit naman niya sasabihing 600,000 MT,” he said.

(There’s no truth to the claim that it was President Marcos who suggested the importation of 600,000 MT … If he didn’t agree with the importation amount of 300,000, what more with that amount.)

“The fact of the matter, your honors, there is already an announcement by the president that we will import 150,000 MT. Malayung-malayo po doon sa sinasabi kanina ng dating SRA administrator na 600,000 MT ang gusto ng pangulo,” Rodriguez added.

(It’s too far from what the former SRA administrator is claiming that the president wanted to import 600,000 MT.)

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, in unison with Rodriguez, does not believe Serafica’s account.

“I don’t believe the President had said that. Impossible. The President will not come up with a figure at the top of his mind,” Zubiri said.

He also warned Serafica to get his facts straight or else, the committee will have no choice but to cite him for contempt.

“You better clarify, Mr. Serafica, because you are close to being cited for contempt,” Zubiri warned.

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said that although there was nothing illegal about Marcos floating the idea of a 600,000 MT sugar importation, he lamented the supposed condemnation of SRA officials as liars.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates. The views expressed are his own.

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