Palace says no comment on call to appoint full-time agriculture chief

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 23 2022 05:57 PM

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., delivers his first State of the Nation Address at the Batasan Complex on July 25, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., delivers his first State of the Nation Address at the Batasan Complex on July 25, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News


MANILA — Malacañang on Tuesday refused to comment on a lawmaker's call for President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. to appoint a full-time head of the Department of Agriculture so he could focus on his role as the country's leader. 

House Minority Leader and 4Ps party-list Rep. Marcelino Libanan made the appeal during an investigation on the botched sugar importation order that led to the resignation of several officials from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA). 

During his speech, Libanan said a separate DA secretary would help curtail the alleged cartels in the agency. Marcos temporarily heads the agriculture portfolio as he aims to help the country attain food security and sufficiency. 

The Palace will wait for Congress to complete its investigation on the sugar import mess before making a statement, said Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles. 

“We have no reaction to that. There are also other questions pertaining to supposedly the testimonies that are being given during the course of the legislative investigation," Cruz-Angeles said in a Palace briefing. 

"We will not comment on those as well because it is in the hands of the committee or the legislature which is conducting the investigation. We will wait for it to complete the investigation,” she added. 

Angeles said government agencies would continue "exercising their visitorial powers" on warehouses nationwide to check against sugar hoarding and smuggling.

NEW SRA OFFICIALS 

The Palace said it would release a separate statement on the meeting of the President with newly-installed officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) on Monday. 

Marcos on Monday swore in David John Thaddeus Alba as the new SRA administrator, replacing Hermenegildo Serafica who resigned after the Palace said the agency's import order for 300,000 metric tons of sugar was "illegal."

Pablo Luis Azcona and Ma. Mitzi Mangwag also took their oath as new board members.

“He (Marcos) did discuss the ongoing crisis. but that’s the extent that we can reveal the details," said Cruz-Angeles. 

"Remember that these officials just swore in, so immediately after that, he convened the group to apprise them of the situation and get recommendations and plan course of action,” she added. 

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