Win Gatchalian

Gatchalian: No ES hand in unauthorized sugar importation order

August 28, 2022 People's Tonight 281 views

SENATOR Sherwin Gatchalian did not see the involvement Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez in the controversial sugar importation issue nor does he agree with the calls to abolish the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

Instead, he said the focus should be on solving the sugar industry’s woes and making sure it won’t collapse as thousands of workers will be affected.

In a radio interview on Sunday, Gatchalian said that based on information and Senate hearing last week, Rodriguez had no role on the unauthorized Sugar Order (SO) No. 4 which should’ve carried out importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

The senator also said there was a “misunderstanding” in the signing, which led to the resignation of SRA officials.

“Hindi ko makita sa pagdinig na may utos siya sa paglagda ng SO. In fairness kay ES Rodriguez, hindi ko nakita sa pagdinig ang kanyang pag-utos, na direktang utos, na pirmahan ‘yan dahil kailangan (I didn’t t see in the previous hearing that ES Rodriguez directly ordered the signing of the SO),” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian said he suspects collusion among traders to make it appear there is a supply shortage as proven by the series of raids in warehouses where thousands of metric of tons are sugar are stored.

The Senate will also look into corruption issues, especially in the unusual quick release of import permits, he added.

The Bureau of Customs is leading surprise inspections nationwide, resulting in the discovery of illegal dealings in some sugar warehouses.

In turning down the call for abolition of SRA, Gatchalian said overall, the agency is doing its job.

“Nakikita ko naman na maganda ang ginagawa nila [SRA]. Ang trabaho nila ay mag-monitor, alam nila kung kailangan may importasyon at produksyon (They are doing their jobs well, which is to monitor, know when to import and when there is enough production,” he said.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri likewise attested to Rodriguez’s efforts in resolving the issue.

“He has been on top of the situation in terms of not only bringing cheap prices of sugar to our markets. Kapag pumunta tayo sa (If we go at) SM and all, it’s already down to 70 pesos per kilo of refined sugar para ‘yan, sinabi nga ni (that is for, according to) Senator Joel Villanueva, sa mga (for the) turon and banana cue operators, ating MSME [micro, small and medium enterprises] kaya nagpapasalamat ang taumbayan (our MSMEs that’s why people are thankful),” Zubiri said after hearing Rodriguez state the turn of events before and after the issuance of SO 4 during the Blue Ribbon committee hearing on August 23. Philippine News Agency