SRA caught in between two clashing gov’t officials
The problems surrounding the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is no longer just about the alleged corruption within the agency. Right now, former SRA chief Anna Rosario Paner is no longer holding back and suggested that it might have been Agriculture Chief Emmanuel Piñol’s agenda in the first place to have her out in the office.
To recall, Piñol, who supervises the SRA, has always wanted Hermenegildo Serafica to be the SRA chief.
When the news that Paner might have already resigned surfaced a few weeks ago amid the issue on SRA’s alleged hiring of overpaid consultants, Piñol immediately raised Serafica’s name as his top recommendation for replacement.
Last week, Serafica was already appointed as SRA chief and it was no less than Piñol who formally announced it.
In a press briefing, Paner suggested that this might have been what Piñol wanted all along— to ease her out and make room for Serafica.
Paner also said that she’s now paying the price of strongly opposing the importation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), an alternative to sugar which soft drinks manufacturers now use widely.
To recall, there have been issues that Piñol was favoring soda manufacturing companies like Coke for making compromises for them regarding this issue.
The entry of HFCS into the Philippines has led to sharp declines in sugar prices.
To ease the effect, SRA then issued Sugar Order No. 3 stopping the importation of HFCS, which Piñol tried to hold in abeyance in favor of softdrink makers.
Piñol, however, denied all of this.
“I endorsed her so she was appointed. She should not say that I did not like her from the start. That’s not true,” Piñol said.
“I will not play the game of Annie Paner,” he even said, referring to HFCS accusation.
“I do not know what her purpose is. Cosmetics? You know we are all presidential. When the President says he does not want you anymore, you should keep quiet,” he further said.