Sugar Regulatory Administration chief Alba resigns due to health: Palace

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2023 11:11 AM | Updated as of Mar 24 2023 02:47 PM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE)- Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) administrator David John Thaddeus Alba has stepped down from his post due to his "worsening health," Malacañang said on Friday. 

Alba's resignation would be effective on April 15, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said. 

It added that Alba informed Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin of his resignation on Wednesday and the latter tried to persuade him not to quit. 

"He (Alba) reasoned his worsening health condition. Upon the directive of the President, his resignation will be effective on April 15 to prepare the appointment of his replacement," the statement read.

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. appointed Alba in August last year in line with the reorganization of SRA. 

Alba's resignation came after a fresh controversy on the most recent importation of 440,000 metric tons of sugar, which was supposedly allocated to 3 "handpicked" importers. 

Sen. Risa Hontiveros had sought a Senate investigation into the issue, while the agriculture department said it would look into claims of irregularities in the importation. 

Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban in February defended the sugar imports, saying Marcos, the concurrent Agriculture Secretary, was "aware" of the issue. 

According to SRA Board member Pablo Luis Azcona, it was announced that Alba has resigned from his post on March 16 during an SRA board meeting last Monday.

Alba said the current controversies on sugar was not a factor in Alba’s decision. 

“Sa personal na usapan po namin at sa nakita ko, parang wala naman. He was actually feeling bad lately. Sa office din po, ilang beses na po silang nagsasabi na mataas po ang blood pressure niya. And then they were getting concerned na rin po, ‘yong mga employees namin na close to him po,” Azcona explained.

(Based on our personal conversations and what I saw, it seems it had no effect... At the office, he complained several times that his blood pressure was high. And then they were also getting concerned, our employees close to him.)

Department of Agriculture (DA) deputy spokesperson Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez said the agency respects the decision of Alba.

His successor could be announced in the next days.

“We in the government come and go depending on the pleasure of the appointing authority. Sa SRA, unfortunately, nag-resign si Admin Alba and I’m sure may makakapalit agad diyan with this problem right now sa asukal. Coming from the ranks din siguro,” Estoperez said.

United Sugar Producers Federation President Manuel Lamata also believes the resignation was not connected to the sugar issues.

Lamata suggested that a local sugar farmer would be fit for the position left by Alba.

“We’ll leave it to the discretion of the President… I truly hope it would still come from Negros, Bacolod. And this time, it should be a sugar farmer na ‘yong concern niya, the consumer and the farmer,” Lamata said.

-- With a report from Lady Vicencio, ABS-CBN News