Former SRA official in hot water anew

A trial court in Negros Occidental ordered the arrest of former Sugar Regulatory Authority Administrator Herminigildo Serafica after he was found guilty of indirect contempt for issuing a memorandum authorizing sugar imports despite a court order prohibiting it.

Himamaylan City Regional Trial Court Branch 55 presiding Judge Walter Zorilla — in a decision released on Monday — sentenced Serafica to 15 days in prison and directed him to pay a fine of P30,000.

A warrant of arrest was also issued against Serafica.

The case stemmed on Serafica’s issuance of Memorandum Circular 11 or the Resumption of Implementation of Sugar Order 3 series of 2021-2022 on 4 May which allowed the processing of applications for the importation of 200,000 metric tons of standard grade refined sugar and bottler’s grade refined sugar despite the Himamaylan RTC issuing a writ of preliminary injunction on 2 March.

Judge Zorilla first issued an order on 2 March 2022 banning the importation of refined sugar after the Negros Occidental Federation of Farmers Association filed a case.

The injunction was in relation to the petition filed by the Negros Occidental Federation of Farmers’ Association against the importation program under Sugar Order No. 3.

In his defense, Serafica said that he acted in good faith on the issuance of MC 11, saying that since Region 6 — the judicial region to which the RTC belongs — was specifically left out of MC 11 and the issuance could not be interpreted as a violation of the WPI.

However, the court said that court said that the issuance of MC 11 “contravened” the WPI.

“Serafica’s justification that the preliminary injunction can be enforced only within the 6th Judicial Region, where this court belongs, is utterly misplaced,” the order stated. “Clearly, there is absolutely nothing in the preliminary injunction that enjoined the implementation of Sugar Order 3 only in the 6th Judicial Region.”

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