ES Belies claims

September 6, 2022 People's Tonight 304 views

Angeles: It’s PBBM’s policy to cooperate with probes

EXECUTIVE Secretary Victor Rodriguez on Tuesday belied the claims of the former head of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. supposedly floated the idea of importing 600,000 metric tons of sugar.

Rodriguez made the statement in response to the allegation of resigned SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica that the President broached the idea of importing 600,000 MT of sugar as against the 300,000 MT signed by the members of the Sugar Regulatory Board (SRB).

Serafica, who tested positive for COVID-19, told members of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee via Zoom earlier said the President voiced no objection to the 300,000 MT planned importation by the SRB.

“Wala hong binabanggit na amount in terms of quantity si Kagalang-galang na Pangulong Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. pagdating doon sa metric tons na dapat iangkat,” Rodriguez told senators at the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearings on the controversial Sugar Order No. 4.

Rodriguez continued: “Wala pong katotohanan na nanggaling kay Pangulong Marcos iyong 600,000 metric tons. I would like to join the manifestation of the good Senator, the Senate President, kung iyong 300,000 metric tons nga ho ay hindi kumbinsido ang Pangulo, bakit naman niya sasabihing 600,000 metric tons?”

Rodriguez maintained that Sugar Order No. 4 signed by members of the SRB provided for the importation of 300,000 MT of sugar. Malacanang called SO-4 illegal since it was not approved by the President, who also sits as chairman of SRB by virtue of his being secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

“The fact of the matter, your Honors, there is already an announcement by the President that we will import 150,000 metric tons. Malayung-malayo po doon sa sinabi kanina ng dating SRA Administrator na 600,000 metric tons ang gusto ng Pangulo,” Rodriguez pointed out.

Even Senate President Miguel Zubiri expressed surprise why after several hearings on the sugar issue, it is only now that Serafica is alleging that President Marcos wanted the importation of 600,000 MT of sugar.

“Ilang hearing na po ito, pangatlong hearing na po ito, bakit ngayon lang niya binanggit iyon? Dapat sa unang hearing pa lang binanggit na niya iyon where is this supposed number had come from and where is it coming from? Ako, dudang-duda ako dito, Mr. Chairman,” Zubiri said.

“I don’t know why this kind of information was put in play; maybe to muddle all these discussions. But why did he just come up with this now and he (Serafica) is denying it,” added Zubiri.

It was Zubiri’s privilege speech on the sugar mess created by the controversial SO-4 that became the basis of the investigation by the Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Sen. Francis Tolentino.

Earlier in the hearing, the executive president apologized to the Blue Ribbon committee for his inability to attend the last two hearings called by Senator Tolentino.

Rodriguez said he was in the thick of the preparations for the chief executive’s first state visit to Indonesia and Singapore that the President asked him to skip the Senate hearings.

“Serafica, meanwhile, got the ire of several senators, including Zubiri, for the unfounded allegation regarding the 600,000 MT of sugar supposedly suggested by the President.

Serafica also said during the last hearing that the President voiced no objection to the 300,000 MT to be imported thru Sugar Order No. 4.

But Rodriguez also belied the statement of Serafica. “I definitely deny that there was a signal coming from my end or 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.

Meanwhile, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said, “ it has always been a policy of the President to cooperate fully with ongoing investigations, be it in the Senate or the in the House of Representatives. In fact, the President welcomes any move by Congress to check allegations of anomalous transactions in government, as this bolsters the administration’s campaign for transparency in governance.”

“Consequently, the Executive Secretary attended the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee and has answered all questions to the satisfaction of the members of the committee.
Cabinet Members who are called to testify as resource persons in any inquiry will continue to extend all courtesies to the Senate and the House of Representatives,” she added.

Angeles also bared the summary of MOUs and letters of intent signed at the Jakarta Business Roundtable Meeting on September 5, 2022 which include US$822 million in investments to textiles, garments, renewable energy, satellite gateway, wire global technology, and agri-food; US$7 billion in infrastructure for unsolicited private-public partnerships such as a C-5 4-level elevated expressway; US$662 million trade value for supply of coal and fertilizer.

“We anticipate that these will generate at least new 7,000 jobs,” she said.