‘Di pwedeng sitting pretty! Senate subpoenas Vic Rodriguez over sugar import mess

After repeatedly skipping hearings, the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee voted on Tuesday morning (September 6) to subpoena Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez to shed light on the controversial order to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

The panel voted 11-3 in favor of a subpoena for Rodriguez following a motion made by Senator Risa Hontiveros, who questioned the seeming special treatment accorded to Rodriguez.

“Bakit po mayroon tayong invited resource person na in effect, nagdidikta sa Blue Ribbon in what way siya sasagot ng mga tanong?,” the senator said. “His answers can be validated and cross-examined immediately by checking with the other resource persons; many of them are also here in person. Kaya importanteng in person din humarap si ES, or at the very least, via Zoom.”

Resigned Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, who signed off on the order to import sugar on President Bongbong Marcos’ behalf, pointed to Rodriguez as the person who authorized him to procure the necessary commodities on the Department of Agriculture.

Rodriguez admitted in a previous hearing that he deliberately did not reply to Sebastian’s texts when the latter asked for directives on sugar importation, which Sebastian took as a sign to proceed with additional imports given what he knows about the sugar shortage.

“Mr. Chair, hindi naman po yata tama na si ES who leads the bureaucracy in service of the president, government and the people ay ligtas at sitting pretty habang ang mga matatapat na civil servants at career employees at ginagawang fall guys,” Hontiveros added.

“We cannot let the head of bureaucracy get away scot-free and throw under the bus those who have constantly, persistently, quietly work for our country. They deserve better,” the senator said.

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