Administrator Serafica latest to quit, board member Valderrama awaits fate
Three out of the four officials who signed the unauthorized sugar importation order without the approval of President Marcos have resigned.
On Tuesday, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) administrator Hermenegildo Serafica joined SRA board member Roland Beltran and Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, who resigned over the order to import 300,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar, which the Palace described as “illegal.”
Serafica’s resignation leaves Negrense sugar leader Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr. as the only remaining SRA board member.
In a press conference held at the Negros Residences, Valderrama, the acting board member representing the planters, said he has sent a letter to Marcos on Monday explaining what happened regarding the Sugar Order (SO) No. 4 and also for the President to decide whether he should stay in his post.
“At the end of the letter, it says ‘If you feel I need to resign and I have lost your trust and confidence,’ you can just tell me anytime. It was the President himself who appointed me here. I leave the decision to him,” he said.
Valderrama, who was appointed as SRA board member only on Aug. 6, said he was the last one to sign the resolution.
“Ensuring that everything was in order, I signed SO4. After Atty. Beltran and Administrator Serafica signed the order, it was submitted to Usec Sebastian for appropriate action. Usec Sebastian then signed it for and on behalf of the SRA chairman, President Marcos Jr. I did not know this (was not in order), nor could have questioned that act, knowing that Usec Sebastian was the chairman’s authorized alternate,” he said.
“I, as a member of the Sugar Board, place myself at the disposal of the President, knowing I served with integrity and hoping that the truth will prevail above all else, in the interest of our stakeholders,” Valderrama added.
Serafica’s resignation was confirmed by Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles in a statement on Tuesday. She said his and Beltran’s resignations were accepted immediately.
A copy of the letters sent to the two officials was released by the Office of the Press Secretary.
Last week, Agriculture chief of staff and Undersecretary for Operations Leocadio Sebastian tendered his resignation to Marcos, who also sits as head of the Department of Agriculture and chairman of the SRA Board, following the sugar importation fiasco.
“I sincerely offer my apologies, your Excellency, for having approved Sugar Order No. 4 on your behalf, and through the authority, you had vested upon me. It has become clear that the same was not in keeping with your administration’s desired direction for the sugar industry,” Sebasian said in his letter.
Malacañang earlier said the issuance of SO 4 was “illegal and unauthorized,” as it was rejected by the President, considering the administration’s thrust to fulfill a “balancing act” of securing affordable and adequate supply for consumers and helping local producers.
In a statement, Serafica confirmed that his resignation had been accepted.
“Today, I am officially leaving my post with a light heart and clear conscience knowing that I performed the functions of my office consistent with, or within the bounds of the law,” he said.
“Before I was asked to become part of SRA, I was a simple farmer. After this, I will go back to my first love, farming. I never thought of becoming a public servant but I became one. It was a long and taxing job but definitely meaningful and I thank those who gave me this once in a lifetime opportunity to serve the sugarcane industry and the Filipino people.”