Serafica quits; softdrink makers bare shortage

Sugar Regulatory Administration Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica has tendered his resignation, becoming the third official to step down amid the controversy caused by the unauthorized sugar import order.

As this developed, the country’s top softdrink makers confirmed the shortage of premium refined sugar or bottlers’ grade sugar, a key ingredient in their products.

Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines, Pepsi Cola Products Philippines and ARC Refreshments Corp. released a rare joint statement on Tuesday.

“We are working closely with other stakeholders of the industry and the government to address the situation,” said the statement.

Resignations accepted

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has accepted the resignation of Serafica and Beltran, according to Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez.

This was confirmed by Press Secretary Trixie Cruz Angeles in a message to reporters.

The “immediate” acceptance of their resignation was contained in the two letters dated 15 August and separately sent to Serafica and Beltran.

The letters, which were released by the Office of the Press Secretary to the media, were signed by Rodriguez on behalf of the President.

“On behalf of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., I wish to inform you that your resignation has been accepted immediately,” the separate letters, addressed to Serafica and Beltran, read.

Their resignation came in the wake of the unauthorized signing of Sugar Order 4, a resolution allowing the importation of sugar.

In his 14 August resignation letter addressed to Rodriguez, Beltran said his move was “without prejudice to any investigation.”

Sebastian quit first

Agriculture chief of staff and Undersecretary for Operations Leocadio Sebastian was the first of the four signatories who tendered his resignation to Marcos who also sits as head of the Department of Agriculture.

Only acting SRA board member Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr. has not heeded the call of lawmakers.

At least two House lawmakers — Juliet Marie Ferrer and France Castro — called for the resignation of those who signed the import order.

While Marcos rejected the SRA’s plan to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar, he remains open to the proposal.

In his latest vlog, Marcos disclosed that the Philippine government may import up to 150,000 MT of sugar by October this year should the local supply of the sweetener runs out.

At the Upper Chamber, Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri questioned SRA’s move to import Monday, noting that there are still about 127,000 metric tons of imported sugar in warehouses, which were part of the import order through SO 3.

Marcos emphasized keeping sugar imports to the barest minimum as it would impact locally produced ones.

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