Senate blue ribbon panel pressed to probe ‘more severe’ sugar fiasco
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III has urged the chamber’s blue ribbon panel to probe a “more severe” sugar import mess hounding the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Compared to the sugar import fiasco that the DA and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) were embroiled in August last year–which the committee likewise probed, Pimentel said the belated issuance of a sugar import order seemingly to justify the unauthorized entry of sugar shipments in the country holds heavier weight.
READ: SRA gets go-ahead to clear release of sugar imports
“Mas malala ito. It’s not only a lack of authority in issuing the sugar order. There is not even a sugar order and then, there are now some admin orders to release the sugar, which is not a sugar order. So maraming issues ito, sanga-sanga,” he told reporters in an online interview on Friday.
(This is more severe. It’s not only a lack of authority in issuing the order. There is not even a sugar order; then, there are now some admin orders to release the sugar, which is not a sugar order. So there are a lot of issues to unpack here.)
Pimentel pressed the DA and the Sugar Regulatory Administration, with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. concurrently at the helm of both, to explain why the procedures were not followed.
“We hope the Senate blue ribbon [committee] will investigate this kasi mas malalim pa ito at saka, mas madali na namin itong maiintindihan with what we have learned from the first investigation,” he said.
(We hope the Senate blue ribbon committee will investigate this because it’s a deeper issue. And we’ll understand it better with what we have learned from the first investigation.)
If the executive branch is not exerting enough effort to get to the bottom of the new sugar controversy, Pimentel said Congress should serve as the “second line of defense.”
But according to him, there is no schedule yet for a committee investigation into the sugar import mess.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, who joins Pimentel in the two-member minority bloc in the chamber, earlier filed Senate Resolution No. 497, which calls for a blue ribbon investigation into the suspicious sugar shipment that reportedly arrived at the Port of Batangas on Feb. 9, or six days before the SRA’s issuance of Sugar Order No. 6.
READ: Senate blue ribbon to investigate sugar imports again
“Since these are not covered by SO 6, there is no other conclusion but to say that these sugar shipments are smuggled. What other conclusion can be drawn other than that this is government-sponsored smuggling?” she said.
Sugar imports ahead of SRA order questioned
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