VOTING 11-3-3, the Senate blue ribbon committee subpoenaed Executive Secretary (ES) Victor Rodriguez to attend the investigation on the sugar import fiasco after he again failed to attend the resumption of the investigation.

The senators on Tuesday conducted a secret balloting to vote on the motion of Sen. Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros to subpoena Rodriguez to attend the hybrid hearing on the reported questionable importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

Rodriguez sent a letter, dated September 5, to the panel explaining that "per instructions of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., I will not be able to attend the hearings." But he said he can answer written questions from the senators.

The committee, led by Sen. Francis Tolentino held an executive session to tackle Hontiveros' motion.

"So following a vote of 11 in the affirmative, three in the negative and three abstention, the Senate is hereby directed to issue a subpoena [to] the Executive Secretary immediately to require his presence and to answer questions coming from the members of the blue ribbon committee," Tolentino said.

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Tolentino said Rodriguez was "commanded to appear before the Senate blue ribbon committee on Thursday. That would be September at 10 o'clock in the morning."

In her motion, Hontiveros said, "May I just remind our honorable committee and the good chair respectfully that my motion was to invite the ES here or at the very least to appear at the blue ribbon via Zoom and to answer our questions, not to answer written questions."

She asked why Rodriguez would dictate to the panel on how he will answer queries. "His answers can be validated and cross-examined immediately by checking with the other resource persons, many of them are also here in person."

That was why it is important that Rodriguez attend the probe "or at the very least via Zoom," Hontiveros said.

"If this is the case, may I therefore proceed to formally move to subpoena the Executive Secretary an extraordinary step simply to secure yung presensya nila (their presence) or at least yung pagharap nila (face [the probe]) live via Zoom as Blue Ribbon to once and for all, after three attempts on the part of the honorable committee to invite his presence," she said.

"We cannot let the head of bureaucracy get away scot-free and throw under the bus those who have constantly, persistently, quietly work for our country. They deserve better," Hontiveros added.