HE IS the last man standing.
Amid the controversial Sugar Order No. 4 (SO4) that seeks to import 300,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) Board Member representing the planters, Aurelio Gerardo "Bodie" Valderrama Jr., stood firm in his decision not to resign yet from his post.
Valderrama said that on Monday, August 15, 2022, he had sent a letter to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos
Jr. who appointed him last week.
"The letter I sent was basically explaining what happened (during the issuance of SO4) and for the President to say if he wants me to resign or not," Valderrama said in a press conference at the Negros Residences in Bacolod City Tuesday, August 16, 2022.
Saying that the letter was just between him and the President, Valderrama stressed that he is at the disposal of the latter.
“If he says I will resign, I will immediately do so," he added.
Valderrama took the position as member of the Sugar Board on August 6, 2022.
He is the the president of the Vicmico Planters Association Inc. and current director of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Association Inc. (Confed).
Valderrama admitted that there have been calls for his resignation following the declaration of the President that the sugar order was "unauthorized and illegal."
“l am here to clarify the circumstances behind SO4 and to enlighten the public in the face of premature judgments and unfounded allegations about an sugar regulatory syndicate,” he said.
Valderrama added that he wants everyone to be enlightened about the insider "vultures" [in the SRA] scheming to corner the market, about the alleged illegal sugar order, and on his involvement in this controversy.
Among those who had earlier questioned his appointment as Sugar Board Member was Negros Occidental Vice Governor Jeffrey Ferrer, mainly because he was a staunch supporter of former Vice President Leni Robredo, who is the political adversary of Marcos.
"I did not seek the appointment but accepted it with the intention of bringing the producers’ voice to the SRA and to help craft measures to address industry concerns,” Valderrama explained.
He also said that the sugar order in question is based on facts.
It was also based on proper consultations, he said, recalling that the proposed sugar importation was based on the SRA's official data and supply and demand analysis, as well as prevailing high market prices which established a clear basis for additional imports.
“This is supported by resolutions from industry stakeholders themselves including those who now demand our resignation," the Negrense planter emphasized, adding that “the resolutions are on record.”
Moreover, he asserted that every possible effort was explored to ensure propriety before affixing his signature on the sugar order in question.
“The Sugar Board also acted as mandated, in faithful observance of accepted procedure following deliberations, consistent with the President's request, who is concurrently Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and SRA Chairman," he said.
The order was done as directed and the Board made sure that everything was in order, Valderrama stressed.
Aside from Valderrama, also signatories to the controversial order included SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, Board Member representing the millers Roland Beltran and Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian.
“I signed the SO4 or the Second Sugar Importation Plan for Crop Year 2021 to 2022 after Beltran and Serafica signed the order,” Valderrama said.
He added that “it was submitted to Undersecretary Sebastian for appropriate action, he then signed it for and on behalf of the President. I did not know this nor could I have questioned that act knowing that Undersecretary Sebastian was the chairman’s authorized alternate.”
Valderrama said he was therefore shocked when news came out that the Presidential spokesperson called the sugar order illegal, passed without the benefit of a formal meeting, and without the President's authority.
“Announcements of an investigation were followed by unfair insinuations and unfounded allegations about corruption in the Department of Agriculture and SRA,” he said, adding that he was the last one to sign the sugar order.
He did sign because they will submit it to the president as soon as possible, Valderrama said.
Beltran and Sebastian have both given up their posts while the resignation of SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica dated August 10, 2022 was already accepted by Malacañang.
Executive Director Victor Rodriguez, in a letter to Serafica dated August 15, 2022, said that “on behalf of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., I wish to inform you that your resignation has been accepted, effective immediately.”
Valderrama, on the other hand, is apparently holding on to his post.
“I am awaiting for the President’s action,” he added.
BACOLOD. Negrense planter Aurelio Gerardo "Bodie" Valderrama Jr. (second from left) stands firm in his decision not to resign yet as Sugar Board Member representing the planters, saying in a press conference at the Negros Residences in Bacolod City Tuesday, August 16, 2022, that if President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. says he will resign, he will immediately do so. (Archie Alipalo Photo)
August 16, 2022
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