Diokno

CRACKDOWN ON ONION CARTELS WELCOMED

September 20, 2023 Jester P. Manalastas 201 views

A House leader has welcomed the government’s filing of criminal charges for profiteering against six individuals allegedly involved in the reported hoarding and price manipulation of onions.

According to Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. this action of the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) only shows President Marcos Jr.’s strong resolve in putting an end to agricultural cartels in the country.

“It only shows that the President (Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.) is really bent on going after these agricultural smugglers and hoarders. It proves that the Chief Executive means business,” Barzaga, chairman of the House committee on environment and natural resources, said.

Speaker Ferdinad Martin 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 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. 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,” he said.

“Results matter for consumers, for people who suffer the greed and caprice of criminals masquerading as businessmen. his is a recurrent and systemic issue that requires a total approach. We really have a big problem when our regulators, especially those in the Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Customs, do not do their jobs honestly and contribute to our nation’s problems,” he added.