Zubiri says Rodriguez innocent in sugar importation mess


Posted at Aug 24 2022 10:46 PM

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez. Senate PRIB/composite
Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri. Senate PRIB/composite

MANILA — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Wednesday said he believes Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez is innocent in the controversial sugar importation order labelled as "illegal" by the Palace.

"I absolutely do not believe that he is part of this plan, of coming out of illegal order to import sugar. Why? Because he was the one who took it to the President, and told the President about this particular plan. That they already signed the import order without the President’s approval… kung kasama sya dito bakit sya magsusumbong kay Presidente,” Zubiri said.

On Tuesday, Rodriguez told the Senate Blue Ribbon panel his version of what transpired before and after the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) issued Sugar Order No. 4 authorizing the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

Rodriguez was asked to come back to the panel’s next schedule of investigation, upon the manifestation of Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

“He’s willing to come back and present to the public yung report ng joint task force nila sa ISAFP (Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines), Bureau of Customs and PSG (Presidential Security Group) sa pag-inspeksyon at pag-raid nitong mga bodega na ito,” Zubiri said.

Meanwhile, Zubiri has different view about former SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica.

“Administrator Serafica time and time again, alam po ng staff po namin yan, has been getting complaints from the industry that he is always favoring importation. Alam ho niya yun kaya nga tinago muna nya ang paggawa nitong Sugar Order Number 4. Why the secrecy? Kasi alam nya maraming aalma at magagalit na stakeholders,” Zubiri said.

“Notorious na po ito, you ask the industry. Medyo notorious na po ito, particularly Serafica on his plan to import. Rather than look at the needs of the farmers,” Zubiri added.

The blue ribbon committee is expected to continue its sugar importation hearing next week.

—Report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News