EXECUTIVE Secretary Victor Rodriguez has denied that President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. had mentioned the possibility of importing 600,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar.

Rodriguez made the remark on Tuesday when senators asked him to confirm or deny the claim of resigned Sugar Regulatory Administration chief Serafica that Marcos Jr. brought the idea of importing 600,000 MT of sugar.

The Senate blue ribbon committee, led by Sen. Francis Tolentino, conducted its third hybrid hearing on the alleged questionable sugar importation scandal under Sugar Order 4.

Serafica, who attended virtually, explained that he did not say explicitly that Marcos Jr. "suggested" to import 600,000 MT of sugar.

"Actually in that online meeting with the President, former [SRA] board member [Aurelio] Valderrama was also in that online meeting and the President mentioned about a volume of 600,000 metric tons and I said, 'Mr. President, that maybe too much...'," Serafica said, since the milling season was about to start then.

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Senate President Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri deplored that the President's name was dragged into the controversy.

"The President will not come up with a figure at the top of his mind. You better clarify. You are very close to being cited for contempt," Zubiri told Serafica.

Zubiri asked Rodriguez to confirm or deny Serafica's statement about the President asking 600,000 MT. "I can't believe it myself."

Rodriguez replied, "I categorically deny that there was an instruction from the President to even consider or to import 600,000 metric tons of sugar for SO4.

"Wala ho ganong kautusan ang Pangulo (There's no such instruction from the President)," said Rodriguez, who was forced to attend the investigation into the sugar importation scandal after the panel issued a subpoena compelling him to attend -- whether physically or virtually -- the hybrid hearing.

It was Sen. Ana Theresia "Risa" Hontiveros, who motioned to compel Rodriguez to attend the inquiry after he failed to attend two consecutive hearings.