Senate President Zubiri Wants Blue Ribbon Probe On Sugar Importation “Fiasco”

Senate President Zubiri: “Let us investigate this, and let us find ways to build a better, more responsive, and more inclusive SRA”

On Monday, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri called on the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the sugar importation “fiasco”.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri
Photo: Senator Migz Zubiri / Facebook

The Senate President called on the Blue Ribbon Committee to investigate the issuance of Sugar Order No. 4 by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), which Malacañang has described as “illegal”.

He, in his privilege speech, alleged that hundreds of millions of pesos are being paid in kickbacks for the importation of hundreds of thousands of tons of sugar.

The Senate President added that the “fiasco” has put a spotlight not only on the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s “blatant disregard for the local sugar industry” but also on its “bald-faced attempts to usurp authority”.

Thus, I ask my colleagues in the Senate, particularly the Blue Ribbon Committee, to open an investigation and get to the bottom of this shameful incident, and see whether cases need to be filed against the persons involved,” the Senate President said. “Let us investigate this, and let us find ways to build a better, more responsive, and more inclusive SRA.

The Senate President also said that there’s usurpation of authority and violation of the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act “at the very least”. Citing industry sources, he also alleged kickbacks in the importation of sugar.

To recall, it was last week when the Sugar Regulatory Administration issued Sugar Order 4, which provided for the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar without the approval of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who is the chairman of Sugar Regulatory Board.

According to Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles, the President had rejected the proposal to import 300,000 tons more of sugar. She added that the importation order was “illegal”.

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Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, who signed “for” the President in the questioned order, has since resigned. Sugar Regulatory Board member Atty. Roland Beltran has also tendered his resignation due to health reasons.

The Senate President lauded the resignation of Sebastian and Beltran and also reiterated his call for the rest of the officials involved in questioned order to vacate their positions.

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