Palace says order directing sugar import illegal, probe ongoing

Malacañang on Thursday called Sugar Order No. 4, which supposedly directs the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, as illegal.

At a press conference, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said an investigation is ongoing over the “unauthorized” signing of the document directing the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar on top of what had already been imported in May of this year.

“This resolution is illegal. The chairman of the Sugar Regulatory Board is President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. As such chairman, he sets the date of any meetings and convening of the Sugar Regulatory Board and its agenda. No such meeting was authorized by the President nor such a resolution was likewise authorized,” Cruz-Angeles said.

“An investigation is ongoing to determine whether any acts that would cause the President to lose trust and confidence in his officials can be found or if there is malice or negligence involved. In such a case, if such findings are made, then the only determination left will be how many heads will roll,” she added.

She emphasized that Marcos did not approve the meeting of the Sugar Regulatory Board as regards the importation.

“He did not approve the convening. You can only convene the board with the ascent, explicit ascent of the President, and he didn’t make such an agreement,” she said.

Cruz-Angeles said the resolution appeared to have been signed by Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian.

“He was not authorized to sign such resolution ’cause the President did not authorize the importation. Importations are sensitive matter particularly with regard to agricultural importations. Sugar is one such importation which we take great care with. It is a balancing act,” she said.

She further said the importation process has to be studied carefully “to protect both the consumer against the rising prices of basic commodities while ensuring at the same time that we do not destroy the local industry.”

No preventive suspension yet

Asked about the status of the involved officials, Cruz-Angeles said: “They are under investigation. There is no preventive suspension issued as of right now.”

“Naniniwala din ang Presidente sa due process. Tingnan natin ang dahilan kung bakit minadali nila ito, nagconvene sila nang walang kaalam-alam ang Presidente and bibigyan sila ng pagkakataon i-explain ‘yung panig nila,” she added.

(The President believes in due process. We will determine why this was rushed, they convened without the President’s knowledge and they will be given the chance to explain their side.)

If explanations are not satisfactory, the appropriate penalties against these officials will be imposed, Cruz-Angeles said.

Importation plan

The press secretary also mentioned that Executive Secretary Attorney Victor Rodriguez already issued an order to create an importation plan on sugar.

She explained that this plan would determine if an importation is actually warranted and if it would affect the “critical levels that are approaching at the end of the month will affect the harvest season, which opens in September.”

“A study is necessarily called for and in fact it was the Executive Secretary who issued the instruction for them to create an importation plan. In such importation plan, a determination has to be made about how this is going to affect the incoming harvest,” she said.

Agriculture Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista earlier said the Philippines needed to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar to stabilize the commodity’s price in the market. She said there was a shortage after Typhoon Odette damaged sugarcane crops.

But Marcos rejected the proposal to import sugar, Cruz-Angeles said Wednesday evening.—AOL, GMA News

This article Palace says order directing sugar import illegal, probe ongoing was originally published in GMA News Online.

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