Senators willing to adjust to Dar’s sched after he skipped agri probe again
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Committee of the Whole is willing to adjust to the schedule of Agriculture Secretary William Dar after he skipped the chamber’s agricultural smuggling probe for the third time, even going as far as offering to conduct the next hearing in his residence.
“Kailan siya libre at anong oras? Kami maga-adjust sa kanya [When is he free and what time? We’ll be the one to adjust],” Committee chairman Senate President Vicente Sotto III said during Tuesday’s hearing as he called out Dar’s continued absence in the investigation.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Assistant Secretary Federico Laciste Jr., who is among the agency’s representatives for the hearing, said he will inform Dar’s staff of Sotto’s request.
“Please. Let us know. What time, what day, where? Want it in his house? Masagot lang niya itong mga alegasyon dito, mabigat ito e. Mamanahin ng susunod na administrasyon ito,” Sotto went on.
(Please. Let us know. What time, what day, where? Want it in his house? So he can just answer the allegations, this is heavy. The administration will inherit this.)
READ: NICA probing over 20 ‘smugglers,’ government ‘protectors’
Senator Panfilo Lacson agreed with Sotto, stressing the need for Dar’s presence in the investigation so the secretary can also be informed of other issues concerning the agriculture sector.
“We need him here for other reasons. There are other issues that we want to bring to his attention…It’s very important for govermment officials like Sec. Dar to attend this hearing. Not just to confront or address issues being raised against him but other issues that could make him act doon sa mga hindi niya nararating, na hindi niya alam [on issues that he is not aware of],” Lacson said.
He backed Sotto in asking for Dar’s schedule.
“I support the plea of the Senate President. Kailan siya available? Kami na lang kaya pupunta sa bahay niya at doon kami mag-hearing para lang nandiyan siya. Kung di siya makapunta rito sa Senate [When is he available? We can go to his house so he can attend. If he can’t come to the Senate],” Lacson said.
“Kindly inform us yung date na available siya [of the date when he is available], the committee is even willing to adjust to his schedule,” he added.
Sotto then read a copy of a letter from Dar, who said he could not attend Tuesday’s hearing since he has to preside over a meeting of the Benguet Agri Pinoy Trading Center board and attend other official engagements.
But Sotto noted how Dar’s letter seemed “rushed.”
“Mukhang minadali ito tingnan niyo ha [It seemed rushed, look]: “…Respectfully inform the Committee of the Whole that I am unable to attend the continuation of the public hearing on smuggling of agricultural products and assessment issues in the Bureau of Customs on Tuesday…I will in Benguet to preside the meeting of the Benguet Agri Pinoy Trading Center board and attend other official engagement’,” Dar’s letter stated as read by Sotto.
“Narinig mo ba yon? [Did you hear that’?] I will in Benguet’ baka ‘I will be in Benguet’ siguro ang ibig niyang sabihin [I think he means ‘I will be in Benguet]. Mahirap talaga kapag minamadali ang sulat [It’s hard if you’re rushing],” he added.
READ: ‘Untouchables’ blamed for agri smuggling; group slams ‘inaction’ of local execs
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