Ignominious fall from power (2)

The action of the erstwhile Executive Secretary two weeks before and immediately before he announced his resignation, is brazen dishonesty and unparalleled in duplicity.

Let us backtrack on the circumstances surrounding the sugar fiasco.

On 11 August 2022, following the posting on the website of the Sugar Regulatory Administration of Sugar Order No. 4, which is a resolution authorizing the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, signed by resigned but preventively suspended Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, and resigned members of the SRA — SRA chair Hermenegildo Serafica, Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama, and Roland Beltran, the Press Secretary, whether on her own or upon the instruction of the former ES whom she has cleared of any responsibility on the controversial issue, even when no one was accusing him of any participation thereof, called for a press briefing, recklessly and irresponsibly declared that such issuance was an illegal act and without the prior knowledge of the President, to wit:

“This resolution is illegal. The Chairman of the Sugar Board is President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. As such chairman, he sets the date of any meetings or convening of the Sugar Board and its agenda. Mo such meeting was authorized by the President or such a resolution was not authorized.”

“The resolution was issued in the President’s name; it was signed for the President by Undersecretary Sebastian. The such signing was not authorized by the President.”

“His assignment as the alternate of the President is merely to be present in those meetings where the President cannot attend. It is not a delegation of authority to call any meetings or to sign any resolution in the absence of the President’s awareness that such a resolution is to be issued.”

Additionally, the voice coming from across the Pasig River pompously declared:

“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 involved. In such a case, if such findings are made, then the only determination left will be how many heads are going to roll.”

As this columnist has repeatedly articulated here and on other platforms, the issuance of Sugar Order No. 4 was issued based on the 16 July 2022 memorandum issued by the former ES, “by authority of the President” granting Mr. Sebastian the delegated power, among others, to sit as “ex-officio” Chairman of the SRA. As such, he had the authority to convene the Sugar Board and signed the said sugar order for the President.

Moreover, the issuance was under the instruction of both the Chief Executive and the Executive Secretary, made separately to Mr. Sebastian and Messers Serafica and Beltran on the 1 and 4 August meetings. This is where the crisis of sugar shortage was discussed and the instruction to prepare the said sugar order was made, as admitted by the ES before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.

The latter disputed, however, that there was an online meeting between the President and Messers. Serafica and Valderrama, and that PBBM in that meeting, per the testimonies of the aforementioned two, floated the idea of importing 600,000 metric tons of sugar. As of this time, however, the President has not made any statement disputing such declaration of the former SRA members. The idea is not at all bad, for which the Senate President was reacting violently during the Senate investigation, even threatening the declarant Serafica with contempt of the Senate citation.

While the Press Secretary was making the aforementioned false and misleading statements in her press briefings on the illegality of the issuance of the sugar order, the alleged absence of prior knowledge by the former Executive Secretary, and his non-participation in its issuance, the then-ES kept quiet and allowed the general public to believe in the lies peddled by the former. The former ES later came out with an admission that it was he who instructed the Sugar Regulatory Administration to craft the sugar importation resolution, which appears to have been made either during or immediately after the aforementioned 1 August 2022 meeting. He also admitted to having received the 5 August 2022 memorandum addressed to the President and coursed through him, seeking approval of the draft SO 4. He likewise admitted ignoring the said memorandum as well as not responding to the two follow-up text messages sent to him by Mr. Sebastian before SO 4’s posting on the SRA website.

He did not also inform or relay to the President the existence of the 5 August memorandum with the attached draft SO 4 because the latter was startled when Mr. Sebastian personally informed him of the release of SO 4 on 10 August shortly after the same was posted on the SRA website.

All these brouhahas, deceiving the general public on the facts and circumstances leading to the issuance of SO 4, humiliating and tainting the reputation of former DA officials, even placing them in danger of being placed behind bars for following an unlawful instruction, covering up acts of incompetence and dereliction of duty, and eroding the political capital of the President, would have been avoided if only the two alter egos of the President exercised due care and diligence in the performance of their duties as public servants.

Is not that kind of demeanor one of naked dishonesty and intentional pretense?

(To be continued)

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