Elpidio Barzaga Jr

Agri cartels warned: Your time has come

September 20, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 124 views

CAVITE Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. on Wednesday welcomed the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) move in filing criminal charges for profiteering against six individuals in connection with the hoarding and price manipulation of onions, saying it only shows President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr.’s strong resolve in putting an end to agricultural cartels in the country.

“It only shows that the President (Marcos) is really bent on going after these agricultural smugglers and hoarders. It proves that the Chief Executive means business,” said the National Unity Party (NUP) lawmaker, who is a CPA-lawyer by profession.

Barzaga is a senior member of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, which has been investigating the price manipulation of onions and other agricultural products.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez had called for a congressional probe in December last year when prices of onion surged to over P700 pero kilo and as a result, the panel chaired by Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga was able to unmask key cartel personalities and allied firms.

The House of Representatives has been cooperating with the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the NBI in going after the onion cartel, which is behind the hoarding and price manipulation of agricultural products, especially onions.

Barzaga said the House and the DoJ, headed by Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla who, himself, is a former Cavite congressman, have been helping each other by exchanging information on the culprits behind the sudden increase in the prices of onion.

“As a matter of fact, the majority of the information was unearthed during the House hearings. This is a long-standing national problem and perhaps, time has finally come for a real campaign against agricultural smuggling and hoarding, a modus which hurts the public tremendously,” he said.

The senior lawmaker said that “the government can get serious when it wants to and when it needs to address agricultural smuggling. This is just the tip of the iceberg and expect more agri smuggling cases to be filed in the near future.”

“Results matter for consumers, for people who suffer the greed and caprice of criminals masquerading as businessmen,” Barzaga said.