NEGRENSE David John Thaddeus Alba, administrator of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), said Wednesday, March 22, that he has "not yet" resigned from his post.
"Wala, wala pa (no, not yet)," Alba said when pressed for reports that he has resigned amid the controversies over the alleged illegal smuggling of sugar into the country ahead of the implementation of Sugar Order No. 6 for the importation of 440,000 metric tons of refined sugar.
Alba refused to give a comment on the issue, and stressed that all questions should be directed to the Department of Agriculture.
However, a highly placed source said that Alba already submitted his courtesy resignation to Malacañang two weeks ago, and that the Palace has not yet acted on the reported resignation of Alba as of March 22.
The rumored resignation of Alba comes after a series of exposés by opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros, questioning the entry of imported sugar without proper documents.
Hontiveros also sought the Senate's help in investigating the matter.
She also wanted the preventive suspension of Agriculture Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban on the heels of claims of a sugar cartel.
Hontiveros claimed that the shipments entered the country without permits and before an import order was issued by the SRA.
She dubbed the importation of sugar "government-sponsored smuggling."
Alba replaced Hermenegildo Serafica who resigned as SRA administrator in August last year in the wake of the unauthorized signing of Sugar Order (SO) 4, a resolution allowing the importation of 300,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar.
Alba was the general manager of the planters' groups based in Negros Occidental, the Asociacion de Agricultores de La Carlota y Pontevedra, and the La Carlota Mill District Multi-Purpose Cooperative before his appointment to the SRA.
In her new expose, Hontiveros revealed that three sugar importers might get at least P7 billion in "super profits" by selling the sugar at a high price.
Malacañang, on the other hand, defended President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s approval to sell seized smuggled sugar, citing the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act.
The said confiscated sugar will be sold at P70 per kilo at the Kadiwa Centers.
The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) in a statement, argued that confiscated smuggled agricultural products could be given to government agencies as "donation."*
March 23, 2023
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