THE Senate Blue Ribbon Committee has recommended to the Office of the Ombudsman the filing of charges, criminal and administrative, against four officials implicated in the sugar importation controversy.In the committee’s report, it recommended the filing of charges against Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, former Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA) administrator Hermenegildo Serafica and former SRA board members lawyer Roland Beltran and Aurelio Valderrama Jr.It said the preliminary evidence on record indicates that these officials “committed the administrative offense of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, and gross insubordination under the revised rules on administrative cases in the civil service.”The committee also recommended the filing of criminal charges for violation of the violation Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016 and usurpation functions.It also sought for the inclusion of the four personalities in the lookout bulletin of the Bureau of Immigration.The committee also recommended the following remedial legislation:* Amendment of relevant legislation such as executive order number 18, Republic Act 10659, and related laws to eject transparency and accountability in process of issuing import permits and other critical issuances;* Amendment of executive order number 18 to provide for the expansion of the sugar regulatory administration board to eight members with the secretary of agriculture continuing to act as ex officio chairman and the addition of sectors represented such as additional board members to represent the consumers, both industrial and household, sugar industry workers, sugar transportation sector workers, and other stakeholders in the success of the sugar industry;* Amendment of executive order number 18 to prohibit the delegation of the authority of the SRA board to reclassify sugar;* A review and rationalization of the sugar importation policy of the government;* Full funding for the SIDA law or republic act 10659;* SRA immediately prepare a sugar importation plan with appropriate safeguards clearly specified for review of higher authorities.On Tuesday, September 6, the committee wrapped up its probe into the sugar importation mess, which stemmed from the issuance of the Sugar Order (SO) 4.The SO 4 was deemed illegal by Malacañang as it was not approved by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the concurrent chairman of the Sugar Regulatory Board.The SO 4 seeks the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar amid the scarcity of supply in the country due to the onslaught of Typhoon Odette in the country in December 2021 that destroyed sugarcane crops in the affected areas, resulting in the increase of its prices.Malacañang said the importation is a sensitive matter that the government is taking great care with for the sake of the local industry suppliers. (SunStar Philippines)