Palace: No info yet if Marcos accepted Agri undersecretary's resignation

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2022 02:17 PM | Updated as of Aug 13 2022 04:01 PM

MANILA (UPDATE)– It was so far unclear if President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has accepted the resignation of Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, Malacañang said Saturday. 

This came after Sebastian signed a resolution calling for the additional importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar even though he was not authorized to do so, according to the Palace. 

The Palace denied that Marcos, who temporarily heads the agriculture portfolio, cleared and approved the resolution since he did not convene any meeting with the Sugar Regulatory Administration board. Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles described the document as "illegal." 

"Wala pa po tayong impormasyon tungkol diyan. After all ... Late na namin natanggap kahapon," Cruz-Angeles said in an interview on state television PTV.

"Ang mahalaga po kasi diyan sa kaniyang liham ay iyon pag-act niya doon sa pag-convene ng Sugar Regulatory Board at iyong paglalabas ng resolusyon." 

Cruz-Angeles earlier said the agriculture official is not yet off the hook, even if he stepped down. An investigation is underway, she added, to determine whether or not the act was done with negligence or with malice. 

During the interview Saturday, the Palace official said his letter will be part of the "facts" and findings of the investigators. In a message to reporters, Cruz-Angeles said the investigation is led by Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Richard Palpalatoc.

Other key officials who also signed the document can be liable and are under investigation too. 

"Iyong pag-amin niya ay maipapasok iyon bilang sa ilan sa mga facts doon na ija-judge kumbaga. Magiging bahagi ng findings ng investigators natin," she said. 

"Siyempre kailangan tingnan natin lahat ng mga pumirma dito sa ilegal na resolusyon na inilabas nila para sa importation ng sugar ... Titingnan po natin kung ano ’yung extent ng kanilang involvement dito."

Cruz-Angeles earlier said the investigation will likely not be limited to the import resolution that the Sugar Regulatory Administration issued, and may also include other issues inside the Department of Agriculture.

The proposal to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar came as its cost hit P100 per kilo in wet markets. Malacañang said the importation should be a "balancing act" which keeps in mind the welfare of consumers without killing the local industry.

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