Press Release
September 12, 2022


Mr. President, my dear colleagues, I stand before you here today upon instructions of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, having considered the privilege speech of the Honorable Senate President last Aug 15, 2022, and after conducting several public hearings, I have the honor to report the findings thereof.

Mr. President, I present herewith today, with strong belief in the findings and conclusions of the Blue Ribbon Committee Report No. 3 on the sugar fiasco surrounding the issuance of Sugar Order No. 4. in coordination with the Senate Committee on Agriculture headed by the honorable Senator Cynthia Villar.

With a sense of urgency, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee commenced its investigation on August 23, 2022, and within 17 days ending 08 September 2022, your committee was able to complete the hearings as well as complete the committee report.

Mr. President, we invited all the SRA board members, all the personalities involved, and we even issued a subpoena to no less than the Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez. Mr. President, gusto ko pong pasalamatan muna -I would like to express my gratitude to all the members of the Committee in devoting their precious time to shed light to the facts surrounding this issue, including the members of the minority. Napaka sipag po nila. I thank not only the Committee members, all our colleagues, the staff, the members of the Blue Ribbon Committee, those from the executive branch, and most especially the participation of the sovereign people. Sa mga kababayan nating sumubaybay sa tatlong hearing patungkol sa isyung ito, ang mga nagkomento sa mga social media pages at nagpahayag ng kanilang opinyon at mga haka-haka -- maraming pong salamat! This is the height of public participation. At sinabi ko po sainyo na lahat ng ito ay aming pagninilayan.

Again, Mr. President, modesty aside, for the first time in the history of this Blue Ribbon Committee, a comprehensive 75-paged report was released after only 3 thorough yet efficient full-blown hearings. Again within 17 days, this report - which we will be providing to all our dear colleagues -- outlines the findings of the Committee based on evidence duly presented and weighed according to factual standards.

Mr. President, hiniling po saatin noon ng minorya, and I am correct. Pag tama ang ginawa ng Blue Ribbon Committee, we restore not just the integrity of the Senate but the integrity of the senate likewise. In its stand to protect the integrity of the Senate and its constitutional power to extract information during the conduct of investigations in aid of legislation, the Blue Ribbon Committee, as I have mentioned before, even issued a subpoena against the Executive Secretary to compel his presence and find out the truth as to the facts and circumstances leading to the issuance of the subject Sugar Order No. 4.

Mr. President, In the conduct of our queries, we made sure that politicization of issues are dispensed with. The honorable members of the Blue Ribbon Committee can attest to this. Instead, we focused our energies and resources on the issue at hand - whether there was really a real need to import sugar. If there was none, who authorized the importation to the detriment of the Philippine sugar industry?

Alam niyo po, sa isyung ito ay makikita ang kahalagahan ng epekto ng lahat ng polisiya na inilalatag ng pamahalaan, na nilatag ng ating mga mambabatas para sa maayos at mahusay na implementasyon ng mga nasa ehekutibo.

Mr. President, sa simula palang, nung nire-organize po ang Blue Ribbon Committee, your Chairman has laid down the following principles that will guide the committee in its investigations.:

1. One, A Road Map will be made for purposes of hearing a known duration with a defined direction. Unending hearings will not be allowed.

Ayaw po maniwala nung iba, but we did that with the help of all our colleagues including the minority.

2. Investigation will not evolve into a political circus. It will not be a witch hunt or a fishing expedition;

3. Resource persons will be respected;

4. Moral certitude will be the standard of proof; and finally,

5. The Committee will protect the people, the fountain of power.

Mr. President, sa simula ng pag laganap ng asukal sa ating bansa, and this was around the 1800s, I have read in one of the late nights I was studying the Sugar Industry that the British - just an hour ago we were watching a ceremony within the British parliament after the death of Queen Elizabeth. During the 1800s, a British Vice-Consul in the name of Nicholas Loney was at the forefront of the birth of the sugar industry in the Philippines. It was said that he pushed for easy installment of crop loans given to sugar planters first in Iloilo City, which after seeing the prominence in the sugar farming, expanded the grant of crop loans to farmers in Negros. History accounted for Loney's assistance in the acquisition by our local farmers of machineries and farming technologies during that time. Because of this, Mr. President, Visayas' main product then was raw sugar destined for the United States, England, and Australia.

My dear colleagues, what I am leading to here is this: one person's prioritization of granting favorable loans to planters of a certain crop yielded the birth of an entire industry, the birth of the Filipino's sweet tooth, the reason why we dip suman in sugar, why we love panghimagas, and have our own version of sweet spaghetti, Mr. President.

Mr. President, for the same reason, an improper policy or order - most especially one issued without the proper authority nor extensive study as support and justification - can greatly impact hundreds of thousands of local farmers. Ang sinabi niyo nga po, Mr. President, 800,000 farmers ang apektado. This, to the detriment of not just the sugar industry but the lives of our local farmers themselves, their wife, their children, and their future. It is ironic, Mr. President, that we have farmers without food. As I have mentioned a while ago, Mr. President, guided by the principles, which we laid out during that August 17 organizational hearing and after 3 extensive hearings, Mr. President, your Committee recommends the following measures:

1. First, on the need for more transparency and accountability.

2. We likewise propose to expand the SRA Board by adding members to represent key sectors.

3. Finally, the Committee recommends full funding of the SIDA Law of 2005.

Ito rin po siguro ang gusto ni Senator Cynthia Villar.

On the side of Accountability, Mr. President, your Committee recommends the filing of the following charges:

1. Violation of Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA No. 3019)

2. Violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA No. 3019)

3. Violation of Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended.

4. Violation of the provisions of RA No. 10845, otherwise known as the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016.

5. Administrative cases of Serious Dishonesty, Gross Neglect of Duty, Grave Misconduct, Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, and Gross insubordination under Sections 50 (A)(1-3) and (B)(9-10) of the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service

against the following: former SRA Administrator Hermeneglido Serafica, Atty, Ramon B. Beltran, Mr. Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr., former SRA Board members, and against Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian.

Mr. President, let me end my speech, Mr. President, by stating that the aim of the Blue Ribbon Committee is to search for the truth and nothing but the truth. An inquiry in aid of legislation of Congress is not a fishing expedition or a witch hunt with no end in sight, rather it is the responsible and judicious exercise of a constitutional power granted by the people to whom sovereignty resides.

Thank you, Mr. President.

News Latest News Feed