Resigned DA Usec. Sebastian: Scapegoat for incompetence? (2)

The aforesaid memorandum was issued by the Executive Secretary “By Authority of the President,” which means that the designation of Mr. Sebastian as Undersecretary for Operations of DA, as well as the grant on him of additional authorities and functions, has the knowledge and imprimatur of the President. Hence, being given a delegated authority, Mr. Sebastian had the power to approve and sign documents necessary to implement the programs and policies of the Department of Agriculture in behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture, who is the President of the Philippines.

The limitation of such delegated power is that his administrative issuances and signing of contracts, etc. must be necessary to carry out the programs and policies of the department. If his issuances and signing of resolutions are not in accord with established programs of the DA, then that will be going outside and beyond the scope of his delegated authority.

The question arises: Was Sugar Order 4 issued pursuant to the program of the DA?

What are the facts and circumstances surrounding and leading to the issuance of Sugar Order 4?

There is a shortage of sugar supply, or at the very least, there is definitely an impending shortfall by October. This is the consensus of the key players of the sugar industry, meaning the planters, millers and manufacturers. The Philippine Sugar Millers Association, speaking through its president, Pablo Lobregat, testified before the joint hearing of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability and on Agriculture and Food, that the sugar shortage is real, and he is backing Sugar Order 4 on the importation of 300 metric tons of sugar.

Mr. Sebastian, in his testimony before the same joint hearing in Congress, said that the data presented to him by the SRA showed a “clear indication of a rapidly diminishing sugar supply.”

He also added that the current sugar supply is expected to run out this August, based on the data not only from the SRA, but from the Philippine Statistics Authority and the National Economic and Development Authority.

The country’s top soft drink makers — Coca Cola Beverages Philippines, Pepsi Cola Products Philippines and ARC Refreshments Corporation — released a rare joint statement confirming the shortage of premium refined sugar or bottlers’ grade sugar, a key ingredient in their products.

Another indication that there is a shortage is the escalating prices of sugar, which has doubled, indicating that the supply of sugar cannot meet the demand for it.

No less than the President recognizes the inevitability of the shortage of sugar supply come October. He has voiced this out even prior to the issuance of Sugar Order 4. It is in fact this recognition that prompted him to order the importation of 150 metric tons of sugar after meeting with the millers, refiners and other sugar industry stakeholders in Malacañang.

Verily, there is undoubtedly a shortage of sugar on the market, or a certainty of an impending shortage by October. It is precisely this circumstance and the duty of the government, particularly the Department of Agriculture, not only to promote the growth and development of the sugar industry, but to protect the sugar farmers and the consumers, to craft a program to meet the exigency of having a shortage of sugar that will definitely affect all the stakeholders and the consuming public. Failure to remedy such a crisis will effect disastrous results. Obviously what Mr. Sebastian and the resigned SRA members did to counter and neutralize such shortage was to implement the program they believed to be the solution, which is to authorize the importation of 300 metric tons of sugar.

Mr. Sebastian and the resigned SRA members were performing the task they are mandated and authorized to perform when they issued and signed Sugar Order 4.

Could it be that Mr. Sebastian is being made the scapegoat of the incompetence of certain government officials?

(To be continued)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *