Press Release
August 23, 2022

Blue Ribbon Committee Hearing on Sugar
August 23, 2022

Thank you, Mr. Chair for allowing me to say a few remarks this morning.

Like you, and the Senate President, it is my wish that we get to the bottom of this important issue. Importation is always a complex and politically-fraught issue. How do we protect our local sugar producers, already struggling with the high prices of Urea dahil sa gyera sa Ukraine, while keeping the price of sugar accessible for ordinary consumers?

Pero bago po natin himayin ang mga nagtutunggaling mga issue na ito, kailangan ulit natin tanungin: ano ba ang nangyari at sumabog itong fiasco, tawag nga ni ES.

Are there crossed lines among Malacanang, the DA and the SRA Board?

Una, sinasabi ng Malacanang na illegal ang SO 4. It was called illegal because it was issued beyond the authority of the entity that issued it. Wala daw authority si dating Usec Sebastian.

But is that true?

How can it be illegal when it was the Executive Secretary himself who issued a Memorandum dated 15th July 2022 authorizing USec Sebastian to sit as ex-officio Chairman or member of all duly constituted committees, councils, boards or bodies where the DA Secertary is a member. Sa nasabing memo, he has the authority to sign administrative issuances.


Sabi ni Usec Sebastian, he may have misread the intent of the President. And yes it is part of presidential prerogatives to supervise, and if needed, override the exercise of delegated powers. Pero ang tanong ko: Bakit hinayaang pumalaot ang SO4? Why was it not immediately brought to the attention of the President by the Executive Secretary that there was a new sugar order meant to bring in 300,000 metric tons of sugar? Nag meeting na pala sila ng August 4. And the intent to import was already clear then.

Sabi ni Sec. Trixie Angeles, wala daw alam si ES sa Sugar Order No. 4. Ang sabi pa niya, nung nalaman daw ni ES yung SO No. 4, pinagbigay alam nila sa pangulo at diumano nagalit ang pangulo.

But a different version of events has surfaced in various news reports and citizen vlogs.

As early as August 5, 2022, a draft of the Sugar Order No. 4 was already submitted to former SRA administrator Leo Sebastian. (PHOTO OF LETTER SIGNED BY SERAFICA)

In the afternoon of August 5, the DA OSec already wrote to the ES at ito yung inamin ni ES kanina and sent him the said draft as well as a Memorandum for the President. (PHOTO OF EMAIL WITH TITLE MEMO FOR THE PRESIDENT).

Ibig sabihin po, alam ni Sec Rodriguez na may umiikot na Draft Order. An order that received support from stakeholders of the sugar industry. Did he mention this at all to his principal? Di ba dapat ang ES prinoprotektahan ang pangulo? Di ba dapat ang ES gatekeeper?

Sa totoo lang, this could have been a simple policy debate on the sterile question of do we need more sugar. Pero bakit may packaging na niloloko ang Pangulo, bakit pinapalabas na may paglilinlang? Why suggest na first time mo nadinig na may Sugar Order No. 4, when you were informed and kept in the loop as early as August 5?

Panghuli, what did the ES think of the 100,000 MT standby stocks requested by the SRA to be imported by PITC? They knew this was a proposal. Was this acted upon? Was this to counter the hoarders?

Mr. Chair, this only drives home the point na kailangang-kailangan na talaga natin ng maayos na liderato sa DA. I hope this is not a portent of things to come: maglalabas ng order, iaatras ang order, idedeny na sangkot sa order. Nobody is helped by disorganized leadership - not industry, not the traders, not the producers, and certainly not the consumers.

This was not only about one man misinterpreting intent and acting outside powers. Ultimately, this is the fallout of a messy, haphazard bureaucracy.

Wag na natin iminimize ang damage na nagawa nito.

Mr. Chair, on that note, andami ko pong gustong tanungin kay ES. While I do appreciate the fact that he faced the Blue Ribbon , sa tingin ko ay dapat pa niyang sagutin ang ilang mga nakabinbin pang katanungan. Joining the manifestation of the good Minority Leader, I respectfully move to recall him to answer questions before this body. I so move, Mr. Chair.


Note: Please see attached presentation in PDF as part of the opening statement
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