DA official who signed sugar import order resigns: Palace

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2022 10:12 PM | Updated as of Aug 12 2022 11:16 PM

MANILA (UPDATED)— The agriculture official who authorized the signing of a sugar import order without the approval of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has resigned from his post, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said on Friday. 

Cruz-Angeles said Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian sent his one-page resignation on Thursday admitting his lapses. She earlier identified Sebastian as the person who signed the resolution seeking to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar. 

"Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian has resigned from his post as Department of Agriculture undersecretary for operations and chief of staff to the DA Secretary currently headed by President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr," the Palace official said. 

She said Sebastian apologized to Marcos for what happened in his letter dated on Thursday. The statement did not mention whether the President has accepted the resignation. 

“I sincerely offer my apologies, Your Excellency, for my having approved Sugar Order no.4 on your behalf, and through the authority you have vested upon me…I take accountability and responsibility for its consequences,” the letter read.

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“Thus, I humbly offer to be relieved of my delegated authorities and the assignments and responsibilities in my capacity as Chief of Staff and Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture," Sebastian added.

In a Facebook live video, Cruz-Angeles said Sebastian is still not safe from the possible filing of complaints. 

"Hindi po siya magiging safe. The resignation only addresses the administrative aspect," she explained. 

"In his resignation may admissions siya, so kung saka-sakaling mayroong criminal case ito, then those admissions can be presented as evidence for the prosecution kung saka-sakaling may criminal case," she said. 

Authorities are still investigating whether other officials are liable for the unauthorized sugar imports.

The ongoing investigation also seeks to determine whether there is malice in the act, noted the Press Secretary. 

"If the investigation reveals that there are criminal acts here, then he will be appropriately charged, pero hindi lang si Usec. Sebastian ang pinag-uusapan natin dito, may isang buong board, so titignan po natin yung liabilities ng ibang mga miyembro ng board na yun." 

The Palace earlier this week said Marcos rejected the proposal to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar as it hit P100 per kilo in wet markets. 

The resolution, Cruz-Angeles had said, was "illegal" because Marcos did not convene any meeting with the Sugar Regulatory Administration.