Former agriculture and sugar officials welcomed the resolution of the Executive branch to dismiss charges against them over issues surrounding the infamous sugar order (SO) 4 importation program.
Former Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio S. Sebastian said the dismissal of the charges against them would enable them to “move forward” from a “traumatic” and “challenging” experience.
“I thank President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin, and Deputy Executive Secretary for Legal Affairs Analiza G. Logan for their understanding in absolving us of the charges,” Sebastian, who is a CESO I, said in a news statement on Thursday.
“I take note of their admonition to be more prudent and circumspect in future actions,” Sebastian added.
Former Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) board members Roland Beltran and Aurelio Valderrama thanked Malacañang for rendering a “just” decision on the case.
“I have always said from the very start that I am innocent of the charges against me. I remained faithful to my oath of office, and never betrayed public trust,” Beltran said in a news statement.
“It is now time to move forward. It is time to set aside the issues that divide us and to focus instead on how we can work together. The Sugar Industry currently faces serious challenges that demand collective actions involving all stakeholders, in concert with the government,” Valderrama said in a statement.
Former SRA Administrator Hermenegildo R. Serafica has not replied to this newspaper’s query for his side on the matter.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez said Sebastian should have an audience with the Office of the President if he plans to return to the agriculture department. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. concurrently sits as the country’s agriculture secretary.
In a 10-page resolution, the Office of the President absolved the four former government officials of any liability regarding issuance of SO 4 that authorized the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.
“From the totality of the evidence, the Office finds that the issuance of SO No.4 was done in good faith absent any showing that the respondents were aware of their lack of authority,” Executive Secretary Lucas P. Bersamin said in the resolution.