Press Release
September 22, 2022

Hontiveros: ex-ES Rodriguez accountable for withholding details of elusive August 4 Zoom meeting

Senator Risa Hontiveros has asserted that former Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez should be held accountable for his evasiveness about whether or not the August 4 meeting took place.

"Ichecheck daw nila, babalikan daw nila kami sa Blue Ribbon kung may meeting, eh andoon siya sa meeting. What smoke and mirrors is this?" Hontiveros said.

During her interpellation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee report on the sugar importation fiasco, she said that Rodriguez, like former Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica and former Board Member Aurelio Valderrama, are by the Report should also be reprimanded for not divulging at the start of the hearing when he presented a supposed timeline of events that they had met with the President and discussed the importation plan.

"In the last hearing, I proposed that the committee request for a copy of the zoom recording of the meeting. Was that request ever made? I still insist that request is valid and reasonable because the committee report itself mentions that meeting," she said.

"This is not to kick a man when he is already out, but it is material because former Administrator Serafica and former Board Member Valderrama are being accused of not disclosing right away the mention of the 600,000 MT. Just based on fairness, kung kakastiguhin natin sina Serafica dahil mayroon silang hindi sinabi agad sa ating Komite sa simula ng ating imbestigasyon tingin ko lamang ay kailangan ding kastiguhin si Mr. Rodriguez," Hontiveros furthered.

It can be recalled that during the last hearing of the Blue Ribbon Committee on the sugar fiasco, Serafica was branded a liar after revealing that he met with the President via Zoom and the President mentioned the amount of 600,000 metric tons of sugar.

Hontiveros stressed that such statement was corroborated by former Board member Valderrama and actually the uncorroborated testimony is that of Rodriguez that no such 600,000 MT amount was mentioned.

"Sabi ng good Chair during the hearing, there is no corroboration to the testimony of former Administrator Serafica. Pero hindi ba, is it not true that former Board Member Valderrama corroborated the testimony of Mr. Serafica? Ang uncorroborated testimony ay yung kay dating ES Rodriguez na walang 600,000 metric tons na nabanggit," she said.

Hontiveros also questioned Rodriguez' failure to report back to the Senate, as what he committed to do during the last hearing, to verify if such a meeting took place. Such failure, she said, is blatant disrespect to the Senate as an institution.

"An important point that needs to be made here is that despite the request of the Blue Ribbon Committee ay hindi tumugon, hindi tumupad si ES. In that instance, nagpakita na walang paggalang sa Senado," Hontiveros said.

"A second important point is that the Blue Ribbon Chair should have tied up this loose end, even if he himself may believe that the contents of the meeting will not change anything. The credibility of the proceedings can only improve if pre-judgments are avoided," she concluded.

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