Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri has raised concerns over the recent appointments at Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), which were formalized in separate allegedly falsified documents containing Agriculture Secretary William Dar’s signature without his knowledge.
During the senate hearing on the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) budget on Monday, Zubiri asked SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica about the appointments of three deputy administrators at SRA, which he said was not deliberated on and did not have the consent of the majority of the SRA Board.
He also raised concerns over the alleged falsification of documents involving the separate appointment forms of these deputy administrators, which contained Dar’s signature without his knowledge.
“I feel bad for Secretary Dar. When I mentioned this to him last week, he didn’t even realize that he signed the documents, that the documents were false as far as the other members of the placement committee [of SRA] is concerned,” Zubiri said in the Senate hearing.
“[In the documents signed by Dar] it was clearly said ‘this is to certify that the [appointees] have been screened and found qualified by the majority of the HMRPSB during the deliberation’… [but] the two members of the board can vouch on record that there was no such meeting and that they have not given their go signal on the appointment of these people. This is very irregular,” he added.
Zubiri was particularly referring to the CS Form No. 33-A, or appointment forms, of the said SRA deputy administrators.
In the separate CS Form No. 33-A of these SRA deputy administrators, which was obtained by Business Bulletin, Dar, with his signature, certified that the appointees have been “screened and found qualified by the majority of the HRMPSB [Human Resource Merit Promotion and Selection Board]/Placement Committee during the deliberation” held on separate dates.
This should mean that the aforementioned appointees were indeed screened and found qualified by the majority of the HRMPSB, which is composed of Dar, Serafica, and SRA Board members Roland Beltran and Emilio Yulo.
However, Beltran and Yulo, in a letter to Civil Service Commission (CSC) Metro Manila Director Judith Chicano on August 25, which was also obtained by Business Bulletin, said that “members of the HRMPSB have never voted on the candidates for the three positions of deputy administrators”.
They also said that Dar, who serves as the chairman of the SRA, was not present during the meetings wherein their applications were deliberated.
“This is not proper,” Zubiri said. “This can actually lead to falsification of the documents and cases filed at the Ombudsman”.
“I’m just [raising this issue] for your protection. The process should be followed. We have to make sure you don’t bypass your other board members. The problem in SRA is the lack of unity. You have to reach out and find a way to talk to your other board members,” he further told Serafica.
For his part, Serafica said during the senate hearing that the appointing authority at SRA is the Administrator based on the agency’s legal mandate.
He also said that as far as the appointments of the aforementioned SRA deputy administrators are concerned, “all the processes went through”.
“If there are flaws, the CSC will be the best body to comment on these issues,” he further said.
Regarding the alleged falsification of appointment forms, Serafica said in a text message to Business Bulletin that “the intent to allegedly falsify is clearly absent, thus, no criminal motive or even malice could be attributed to the appointment”.
“We maintain that the appointment of the deputies was regular and the board members, as members of the HRMPSB, have participated in the deliberations,” Serafica said.
“The appointment of the deputies is imperative and in accordance with the rationalization program of SRA. With good faith and the greater good of all employees and stakeholders of the sugarcane industry, without any political color or influence, the appointment of the deputies had redounded to the benefit of employees and the agency in general,” he added.