Resigned DA Usec. Sebastian: Scapegoat for incompetence? (4)

Moreover, it was revealed that Sebastian, acting upon the instruction of the ES to draft the order of the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar sent a memorandum dated 5 August 2022 to the President and received by the ES on the same date. Quoted hereunder is the memo addressed to the President:


5 August 2022

From: The Chief of Staff and Undersecretary for Operations

Subject: Recommendations for the sugar industry

Spiking retail prices of sugar amid rapidly depleting supplies necessitate urgent supply-side interventions on the part of the government.

In light of these events, the Sugar Regulatory Administration recommends another round of the sugar import program for a total volume of 300,000 MT. This should fill the gap at the end of the milling season. This will also give allowance for production of the next milling season to catch up with local demand.

Out of the 300,000 MT importation volume, 150,000 MT will be allocated to industrial users. These are food and beverage manufacturers using sugar in the manufacture of their finished product/s in the country for the domestic market. The other half of the total import volume (150,000 MT) can be for the use of producers and traders.

The following dates are the scheduled import arrivals:

1) Imported raw sugar for consumption: No later than 15 October 2022

2) Raw sugar for tolling into refined sugar: No later than 30 November 2022

3) Imported refined sugar: No later than 30 November 2022

The SRA Board will meet to approve the recommended volume as soon as possible.

SRA also recommends a separate import program to be undertaken solely by the Philippine International Trading Corporation. The latter can be authorized to import 100,000 MT (equivalent to two million 50-kilogram bags) for households to address controversially high retail prices.

It is thus recommended that the President issue an administrative order directing SRA to allocate PITC 100,000 MT for households and other uses.

Attached for reference and review is the draft Sugar Order. Thank you.


Chief of Staff and Undersecretary for Operation


It is beyond doubt that Mr. Sebastian in the above memorandum informed the President of the urgent necessity of the importation of 300,000 MT of sugar owing to the shortage of sugar supply to respond to the shortfall, and therefore the SRA was recommending such importation. In the same memorandum, he informed the President that the SRA would convene soon to approve the said recommended importation.

It also recommended a separate importation program and requested the President to issue an administrative order authorizing the PITC to import 100,000 metric tons of sugar for households “to address controversially high retail prices.”

In other words, contrary to the false public posturing of the two government officials, the Executive Secretary had prior knowledge of the controversial sugar, as in fact he admitted before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee that it was he who asked Mr. Sebastian to draw the importation plan and to draft the sugar order on the importation of 300,000 MT of sugar.

The Executive Secretary also admitted having received the 5 August memorandum, and he likewise admitted having received two text messages from Mr. Sebastian inquiring if the President had already approved the said recommendation of the SRA. To these communications of Mr. Sebastian, the former failed or ignored to respond.

It seems to appear now from these revelations that the Executive Secretary, in gross dereliction of duty, failed to inform the President, his principal, of the 5 August memorandum, and necessarily, the latter did not also see the draft sugar order attached to the memorandum. That memorandum stayed with him for four days without taking any action. He only brought up the issue of such importation order when the SRA posted on its website the said Sugar Order 4.

Why did the ES not respond to the 5 August memorandum of Mr. Sebastian? Why did he not respond to the two text messages sent to him by Mr. Sebastian following up on the status of the request for approval of the draft sugar order prepared by Mr. Sebastian and the SRA upon his instruction? Why did he not relay those important and urgent communications to the President?

Why did he not correct the public statement of the Press Secretary that he had no prior knowledge of the issuance of Sugar Order 4?

The general public is entitled to the answers to those questions.

(To be continued)

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