Senate probe on sugar importation mess yields 'good outcome' - group

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 09 2022 12:47 PM | Updated as of Sep 09 2022 02:40 PM

Senators grill former officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration led by ex-chief Hermenegildo Serafica and former Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian during the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the alleged irregular sugar importation order on Aug. 30, 2022. Joseph Vidal and Voltaire F. Domingo/Senate PRIB
Senators grill former officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration led by ex-chief Hermenegildo Serafica and former Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian during the continuation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the alleged irregular sugar importation order on Aug. 30, 2022. Joseph Vidal and Voltaire F. Domingo/Senate PRIB

MANILA — A Senate inquiry on the supposed illegal importation order issued by the Sugar Regulatory Administration has shown "good outcome," an agricultural group said Friday.

According to Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura President Rosendo So, results of the investigation show that agriculture officials should not act on their own volition.

"What we can say is it's a good outcome of the investigation, na hindi basta mag-decide sila-sila lang," he told ANC's "Headstart". "They have to consult the industry so that they have a more accurate data."

The Senate Blue Ribbon committee on Thursday recommended filing charges against 4 agriculture officials over the controversial sugar importation order labelled "illegal" by Malacañang.

The committee sought charges against suspended Department of Agriculture undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, former SRA chief Hermenegildo Serafica, and board members Ronald Beltran, and Aurelio Valderrama.

The panel also recommended the filing of several criminal complaints against the 4 over alleged violations of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, and the Revised Penal Code.

The panel also requested the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to include the names of Sebastian, Serafica, Beltran, and Valderrama in the lookout bulletin order.

The probe stemmed from the controversial Sugar Order No. 4, which would authorize the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar into the country. The order was later nullified by Malacañang.

So stressed that regulators should get more accurate data on the ground.

"Maybe next time, the next administration should not just work with their own data. They have to consult the industry and make a more accurate data," he said.

According to Sinag's own findings, there is no shortage of sugar in the country.

"In our data, dapat talaga 150,000 metric tons lang ang papasok, not 300,000," he said.

The group expects the investigation at the lower chamber will yield similar results.

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