Usec Sebastian resigns amid sugar importation mess

Published August 12, 2022, 10:46 PM

by Betheena Unite

Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian has stepped down from his post amid the ongoing probe on the “illegal” sugar importation order.

(Courtesy of OPS)

Through a letter to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. dated Aug. 11, Sebastian resigned as the Department of Agriculture (DA) undersecretary for operations and chief of staff to the DA Secretary, the President’s concurrent position.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles revealed this on Friday night, Aug. 12.

“I sincerely offer my apologies, Your Excellency, for my having approved Sugar Order no.4 on your behalf, and through the authority you have vested upon me. It has become clear that the same was not in keeping with your administration’s desired direction for the sugar industry. I take accountability and responsibility for its consequences,” Sebastian said in his one-page letter.

“Thus, I humbly offer to be relieved of my delegated authorities and the assignments and responsibilities in my capacity as Chief of Staff and Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture,” he added.

This came amid the investigation of the unauthorized signing of an order from the Sugar Regulatory Board allowing the importation of an additional 300,000 metric tons of sugar supply.

Malacañang said on Aug. 11, the same day the order was made public but was later taken down online, that the President neither signed nor approved the importation order.

“This resolution is illegal,” Angeles said in a press briefing on Aug. 11.

She explained that the President, as the Sugar Regulatory Board chairman, sets the date of any meetings or convening of the board and its agenda, but he ordered no such meeting.

“No such meeting was authorized by the President, nor such a resolution likewise was not authorized,” Angeles said.

The Palace called the issuance of the unauthorized order “illegal” and a hasty decision made despite the administration’s stance on importing agricultural goods.

During her Facebook live, Angeles clarified that Sebastian is only facing an administrative case, which could cause dismissal to the official involved.

She explained that if the official has resigned, “that’s it because there is no higher penalty to administrative cases than dismissal.”

 
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