MANILA - Senator Francis Tolentino said the Blue Ribbon Committee is still looking into the legality of the government’s importation of 440,000 metric tons of sugar earlier this year prior to the release of an importation order.
During the last Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on the issue, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin claimed that a sugar order was not necessary given President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s directive to import.
Senator Risa Hontiveros had labeled the move as an outright violation of the law.
But in an interview during the commemoration of the National Flag Day in Cavite on Sunday, Tolentino said Bersamin’s interpretation of the law needs to be taken under consideration.
“Pinag-aaralan pa po natin, lalong lalo na yung mga statements ni Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, bilang dating Chief Justice ng Pilipinas, kung meron talagang basehan yung kanyang sinabi. So hindi ko pa masagot lahat ‘yan at amin pong kino-compile pa yung testimonies at maging yung documentary evidence,” said Tolentino.
Tolentino also said it is still unclear whether the Department of Agriculture favored certain companies to execute the importation.
The Blue Ribbon Committee chairperson said they are still awaiting several documents, including the sworn statement of resigned Sugar Regulatory Administration chief David Alba, before coming up with a report.
MAHARLIKA INVESTMENT FUND BILL
When asked about the likelihood that the Maharlika Investment Fund bill will hurdle the Senate this week, Tolentino said he could not say for sure as Congress is set to go on recess.
But he did acknowledge that the measure has been certified as urgent by Marcos.
“Collegial (decision) po yan e. Hindi natin alam kung anong mangyayari bukas kasi parang period of interpellation pa e, tapos may (period of) amendment. Hanggang Miyerkules na lang yata ang regular session so tignan natin,” he said.
Senate President Miguel Zubiri earlier said he plans to have the controversial measure approved on second and third reading this week.