PINANINDIGAN ni Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez na walang basehan ang plano ng Sugar Regulatory Administration na mag-import ng 300,000 metric tons ng asukal kaya ito rin ang dahilan kung bakit walang inilabas na awtorisasyon hinggil dito ang Pangulong Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.
Ayon kay Rodriguez, wala pang polisiya hinggil sa ‘sugar importation’ dahil hindi pa malinaw ang mga datus kung bakit at gaano karaming asukal ang dapat iangkat ng Pilipinas sa labas ng bansa.
“We have yet to establish the factual basis for importing the needed quantity of sugar to promote the interest of the industrial users vis-à-vis the interest of the local producers and the stability of prices and supply for domestic/home consumption. Nandun pa lang kami sa stage na ‘yun, when they passed that Sugar Order No. 4 without clearance from the acting secretary, PBBM,” ani Rodriguez.
“The SRA couldn’t even give us an accounting of the 200,000 MT importations it authorized in February, whether this was done in defiance of two Negros Occidental courts’ restraining orders to do so, in response to the suit filed by planters,” dagdag pa niya nang kapanayamin ni Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao nitong nakalipas na Martes.
Sinabi ni Rodriguez na naging ugali na ng SRA na mag-isyu ng import permit para sa pag-authorize sa pag-aangkat ng 200,000 o 300,000 metro tonelada ng asukal. Gayunman, hindi naman aniya malinaw kung saan galing at saan kinuha ang naturang bilang.
Sa panayam sa telepono, sinabi ni Rodriguez kay Tiglao na ang kanyang tanggapan ay nag-iimbestiga na sa 300,000 MT sugar importation na ipinilit ng ilang mangangalakal na tingin nila’y bahagi upang pagtakpan ang ‘hoarding’ dahil maaaring maapektuhang pababa ang presyo ng asukal.
“One report said this could result in windfall profits for them of at least P300 million, and a part of this amount has been mobilized as lobby money,” sabi pa sa column ni Tiglao noong August 17.
Itinanggi rin ni Rodriguez na binigyan nila ng awtorisasyon si Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian na pumirma ng kontrata, kabilang na ang ‘sugar orders,’ ‘on behalf’ o para sa Presidente.
“No, we even sent him a list of his ‘authorities’ that didn’t include signing for the President as his representative in the SRA,” wika pa ng opisyal.
Binigyang-diin ni Rodriguez na si Sebastian ay awtorisado lamang na mag-represent sa meeting para kay Pangulong Marcos sakaling hindi ito puwede, ngunit wala itong kapangyarihan para pumirma sa Presidente, lalo’t sa mga malalaking desisyon o proyekto ng naturang tanggapan.
“Sebastian didn’t even inform the President or me that the Sugar Board will meet to approve that importation. We found out about it only when my staff reported that the SRA posted the order on its website,” pagbibigay-diin pa nito.
“I thought that this was clear for Sebastian when he officially asked the President through my office for ‘guidance’ on an issue that was less important than the importation of 300,000 MT of sugar.
This was for the release to the market of 63,000 MT of sugar that was part of the 200,000 MT importation authorized by Sugar Order No. 3. His request was made July 29, and we haven’t acted on it, so the SRA hasn’t released those sugar stocks,” sabi pa ni Rodriguez.
Sa kanyang memorandum kay Rodriguez, sinabi ni Sebastian na base sa SRA’s staff’s analysis, inirekomenda nila ang importasyon para sa 300,000 metro tonelada ng asukal. “The SRA board will meet to approve the recommended volume [which would be in the form of Sugar Order 4].
“But here’s the problem. The letter is dated August 5, and the SRA board met on August 9 and passed the sugar order. C’mon, did Sebastian really expect the Office of the President to respond to his memorandum in just three days’ time, for him to tell the SRA board to go ahead with Sugar Order 4?,” komento naman ni Tiglao sa kanyang column.
Sinabi ni Rodriguez kay Tiglao na: “As late as August 7, there was no clearance to do what they did. Sebastian knows from several instances in the past that when he asked for clearance for some decision from the President, and if I don’t reply on his request, it means the President hasn’t decided yet.”
Ang ‘sugar order’ ay inilabas noong August 9 at na-post ito sa SRA website. Nang malaman ni Rodriguez, lalo’t wala mismong approval sa Pangulo, kaagad nitong iniutos na i-delete ang ‘announcement’ noong August 10.
Kinabukasan ay nagsumite ng ‘letter of resignation’ si Sebastian kay Pangulong Marcos bilang Agriculture undersecretary for operations’ at ‘chief of staff.’
August 16 o limang araw ang nakalipas, tinanggap na rin ng Palasyo ang pagbibitiw naman ni SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, gayundin si Board Member at miller’s representative Roland Beltran.
Nang tanungin kung nakipagpulong pa si Sebastian kay Rodriguez, sinabi nito na: “He did on the day we learned of their passage of SO 4. All he did was to say ‘Akala ko ho kasi ay okey na.’
Hiniling ni Tiglao kay Rodriguez na tawagan sa telepono si SRA Administrator Serafica at ilagay din sa speaker phone si board member Beltran sa kabilang linya ng telepono, ang sagot ng mga ito ay: “Akala ko ho kasi okey na as per Sebastian.”
“Well, the new information shows that they did, and I can only surmise how they could have been so bold that they could do that, and get away with it,” sabi pa ni Tiglao. Ni ANCHIT MASANGCAY