MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Thursday, August 11, that it is investigating officials who signed a resolution allowing the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar without the approval of the acting agriculture chief, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“An investigation is ongoing to determine whether any acts that would cause the President to lose trust and confidence in his officials can be found or if there is malice, or negligence is involved. In such a case, if such findings are made, then the only determination left would be how many heads are going to roll,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a press briefing on Thursday.
The resolution was uploaded on the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) site on Wednesday, August 10.
SRA Sugar Order No. 4 indicated that Marcos approved the importation. Hours after the order made its rounds, Angeles said it was not signed by the President who, as agriculture chief, oversees the SRA.
Angeles earlier said that Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, who signed the document on behalf of the Marcos, was “not authorized.” She added that the resolution is “illegal.”
Angeles said that Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez earlier asked agriculture officials to craft an importation plan – not a resolution.
When asked, Angeles said the issuance of the resolution could not be a possible case of “miscommunication.”
“No. You don’t convene the Sugar Regulatory Board in the absence of the President and in the absence of any such approval on his part. He didn’t approve the convening. You can only convene the board with the explicit assent of the President and he didn’t make such an agreement,” she said.
Angeles said the officials – Sebastian among them – have not been placed on preventive suspension as the investigation is ongoing. But she did not discount the possibility.
“Lahat po nang pumirma ay under investigation. Hintayin po natin today if a determination can be made na ma-isyuhan sila ng preventive suspension order habang tumutuloy ang imbestigasyon. Pero kung mabilis lang ang imbestigasyon, makakakita tayo ng mga replacements very soon,” she added.
(Everyone who signed the resolution is under investigation. Let us wait for a determination to be made if they can be issued preventive suspension orders while the investigation is ongoing. But if the investigation is swift, we’ll be seeing replacements very soon.)
Marcos, however, has apparently already spoken to Sebastian, albeit informally. The agriculture official had apparently gone to Malacañang on Wednesday night. – Rappler.com