Resigned DA Usec. Sebastian: Scapegoat for incompetence? (3)

The conclusion that resigned DA Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian is made the scapegoat for the incompetence of certain government officials is evident by the circumstances detailed earlier as well as other facts that evolved thereafter. The joint hearing of the House Committees on Good Government and Public Accountability and Agriculture, as well as the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing is coming out with revelations heretofore unknown to and seemingly kept from the public.

For one, it appears now that per the testimonies of resigned DA Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian and resigned SRA Chairman Hermenegildo Serafica, on 1 August 2022, the former had a meeting with the President and the Executive Secretary regarding the problem of the insufficient supply of sugar while Serafica had a meeting on 4 August 2022 with the President, Executive Secretary, and another resigned SRA board member Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama. In both meetings, they discussed the sugar shortage or the impending shortage thereof.

Mr. Sebastian’s 1 August meeting with the President gave him the impression of the urgency of the situation which was bolstered by the feedback given to him by Valderrama on the outcome of the latter’s 4 August meeting with PBBM and ES where they agreed to come up with an importation plan of sugar.

What is telling is the fact that there is now an admission from the ES during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing that he was the one who instructed Sebastian and the SRA to come up with the plan of importing 300,000 metric tons of sugar and instructed them to prepare the controversial Sugar Order No. 4.

All the while, from the statements emanating from the Press Secretary, the ES had no prior knowledge of Sugar No. 4 and that allegedly he came to know of its existence only when it was posted on the website of the Sugar Regulatory Administration on 10 August 2022.

The public was fed with a lie, an attempt at absolving the ES when no one at the time was even accusing him of any participation in the issuance of Sugar Order No. 4. Worse, the Press Secretary recklessly and irresponsibly, and without any legal basis accused Sebastian of an illegal act for signing the said order on behalf of the President. When in truth and fact, the 15 July 2022 memorandum issued by the ES designating Sebastian as Undersecretary for Operations and Chief of Staff of the Secretary (President BBM) and giving him additional functions and authorities like signing contracts, resolutions, and administrative issuance, in addition to sitting as ex-officio Chairman of the SRA, “By Authority of the President”, clearly is a delegated power, the exercise of which by Mr. Sebastian is in accordance with the law.

(To be continued)

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