Press Release
August 23, 2022


Senator Risa Hontiveros questioned the involvement of the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES) regarding the 'unauthorized' sugar order.

In the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Tuesday, Hontiveros echoed the sentiments of netizens that there seems to be a "disconnect" between Malacanang's claim that Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez had no prior knowledge of the Sugar Order No. 4 and subsequent news reports revealing otherwise.

"As early as August 5, 2022, a draft of the Sugar Order No. 4 was already submitted to former SRA administrator Leo Sebastian. In the afternoon of August 5, the DA OSec already wrote to the ES na inamin niya ngayon and sent him the said draft as well as a Memorandum for the President," she said.

"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?" Hontiveros added.

Hontiveros also found it 'puzzling' why the OES acted as if it was the first time they heard of such a memorandum when it was revealed that the office was in the loop. "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?"

"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?" Hontiveros asked.

Rodriguez attended and made an opening statement at the BRC hearing but immediately excused himself afterwards. This prompted Hontiveros to file a motion to recall him in the next hearing as many questions remained unanswered.

"Dapat pa niyang sagutin ang ilang mga nakabinbin pang katanungan. I respectfully move to recall him to answer questions before this body," she said. Such motion was carried and supported by her fellow senators.

Hontiveros then reiterated her call to immediately appoint a competent agriculture secretary who would focus on preventing a looming sugar supply crisis.

"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," she said.

"This was not about one man misinterpreting intent and acting outside powers. This is the fallout of a messy, haphazard bureaucracy. Wag na natin i-minimize ang damage na nagawa nito," Hontiveros concluded.

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