FACING THE SENATE. Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez shares before the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee the status of sugar supply on Tuesday (Aug. 23, 2022). Rodriguez likewise narrated the incidents before and after the controversial Sugar Order No. 4 which was supposed to allow the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar but later turned out to be an unauthorized order. (Photo courtesy of Senate PRIB)

MANILA – The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee praised Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez on Tuesday for taking steps to maintain stable sugar prices.

The committee launched an inquiry into the fiasco surrounding Sugar Order No. 4 (SO 4) issued by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) allowing the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

It later turned out that SO-4 was not authorized by Malacañang.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri attested to Rodriguez's efforts in resolving the issue.

"He has been on top of the situation in terms of not only bringing cheap prices of sugar to our markets. It is being done as we speak. Kapag pumunta tayo sa (If we go at) SM and all, it's already down to 70 pesos per kilo of refined sugar para ‘yan, sinabi nga ni (that is for, according to) Senator Joel Villanueva, sa mga (for the) turon and banana cue operators, ating MSME [micro, small and medium enterprises] kaya nagpapasalamat ang taumbayan (our MSMEs that's why people are thankful)," Zubiri said after hearing Rodriguez state the turn of events before and after the issuance of SO 4.

Rodriguez was on top of the “visits” being conducted by the Bureau of Customs and other law enforcement agencies all over Metro Manila and adjacent provinces, where thousands of metric tons of alleged hoarded sugar have been discovered, according to Zubiri.

"Sila po 'yan (That's them). He gives me the reports, I share it with my dear colleagues para makita na aksyon agad kaya maraming salamat po (so they can also see the immediate action that's why I want to thank you very much), Executive Secretary. I wanted you to hear this before you leave," Zubiri added.

Senator Ronald Dela Rosa suggested that Rodriguez file cases against alleged sugar hoarders.

"People are waiting kung meron talagang makakasuhan dito sa mga (if there will be filing of cases against these) hoarders and price manipulators," Dela Rosa said.

Senator Francis Tolentino, the committee chair, likewise thanked Rodriguez for physically attending the hearing despite his busy schedule as the alter ego of the President.

"Salamat po. ‘Yung ibang magtetestigo, natakot, nagkasakit, may (Thank you. Other witnesses are afraid, sick, has a) medical certificate. Kayo, nandito (But you, you're here)," Tolentino told Rodriguez.

The Executive Secretary left the hearing after delivering his statement to prepare for a Cabinet meeting in Malacañang. (PNA)