Department of Agriculture

DA official who signed ‘illegal’ sugar importation resolution resigns

Jairo Bolledo
DA official who signed ‘illegal’ sugar importation resolution resigns

AGRI CHIEF. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. presides over a meeting with Department of Agriculture officials on July 18, 2022.

Photo from Bongbong Marcos Facebook

(3rd UPDATE) 'I take accountability and responsibility for its consequences,' Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian says in his letter to the President

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) official who signed the alleged illegal sugar importation resolution has resigned from his post, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angles said on Friday, August 12.

In a statement, Angeles said Leocadio Sebastian, undersecretary for operations and chief of staff to the DA Secretary, resigned and apologized to agriculture chief and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“I sincerely offer my apologies, Your Excellency, for my having approved Sugar Order No. 4 on your behalf, and through the authority you have vested upon me… I take accountability and responsibility for its consequences,” the agriculture official said in his letter quoted by Angeles.

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Sugar Order No. 4 of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) approved the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar after being “signed” by the President, who also chairs the SRA. However, Angeles clarified that the President did not sign the resolution.

The Press Secretary earlier explained that Sebastian was “not authorized” to sign the document on behalf of Marcos. She also described the resolution as “illegal.”

In his letter to the President, Sebastian wished to be relieved of “delegated” tasks that go with both of his assignments. “Thus, I humbly offer to be relieved of my delegated authorities and the assignments and responsibilities in my capacity as Chief of Staff and Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture.”

Although Angeles used the word “resign” to refer to Agriculture official’s action, Sebastian did not use the word in his letter.

Angeles added, in her statement, that the investigation is ongoing to determine if there was “malice” or “negligence” involved in the issue.

“In such a case, if such findings are made, then the only determination left will be how many heads are going to roll.”

Malacañang probes ‘illegal’ sugar importation resolution

Malacañang probes ‘illegal’ sugar importation resolution

Sebastian’s resignation came two days after he went to Malacañang on Wednesday, August 10. The President had informally spoken to the besieged agriculture official.

A days after Sebastian’s exit from the agriculture department, Marcos accepted the resignation of SRA chief Hermenegildo Serafica, effective immediately.

SRA board member Ronald Beltran also tendered his resignation citing “health reasons.” Beltran sent his resignation to Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez via email on August 14. 

Beltran, in his letter, said his resignation was “without prejudice” to the ongoing probe into the resolution. 

The board member also noted that he had presumed to exit the post on July 1, when his term expired but that he was summoned back to the board after he was told he would stay in a “holdover capacity.” The Palace earlier issued two circulars authorizing the extension of terms and designation of officers-in-charge for certain posts pending a new appointee from the Marcos administration. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.