Onions1 P135-M worth of smuggled onions and garlic were seized in separate rates in Metro Manila.

P135-M hoarded onions, garlic seized

February 18, 2023 Alfred P. Dalizon 314 views

SOME 300 metric tons of suspected smuggled onions and garlic worth around P135 million, were seized by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in separate raids Saturday in Metro Manila, PNP-CIDG director Brigadier General Romeo M. Caramat Jr. said yesterday.

The raids came amid a warning aired by House Speaker Martin Romualdez against exploitative businessmen and onion and garlic hoarders who are believed behind the constant increase in the price of the two main cooking ingredients in the country.

In a report to PNP chief, General Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr., Brig. Gen. Caramat said members of the CIDG Anti-Transnational Crime Unit, the Anti-Organized Crime Unit, Anti-Fraud and Commercial Crimes Unit, Major Crime Investigation Unit and their Intelligence Division in collaboration with the Bureau of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service and the Philippine Coast Guard stormed dozens of warehouses and establishments in Tondo and Binondo, Manila and in Malabon City found to be involved in the illegal importation and hoarding of onions and garlics.

Armed with BOC Letters of Authority, the lawmen started the raids at 3 p.m. Friday and ended at 1 a.m. Saturday. Targeted by the operations were establishments and warehouses located on Carmen Planas, Sto. Cristo and Kaunlarant Streets in Tondo, Manila; El Cano St. in Binondo and Governor Pascual Avenue in Barangay Catmon, Malabon City.

Brig. Gen. Caramat said that his men led by Colonels Zacarias Noel B. Villegas and Santiago D. Pascual III enforced the Letters of Authority issued by BOC Commissioner Bienvenido Y. Rubio against the target warehouses and storage facilities.

Eighteen of the warehouses/establishments raided were located on Carmen Planas St.; three on Sto. Cristo St., some on El. Cano St. in Binondo, a warehouse on Kanlurat St. in Balut, Tondo and a warehouse on Governor Pascual Avenue in Malabon City.

Brig. Gen. Caramat said that an estimated 50 tons of imported onions and garlic valued at P40 million were found stored in 23 warehouses and establishments in Manila.

On the other hand, an estimated 250 tons of imported onions and garlic worth about P95 million were discovered in the Malabon City warehouse.

“All raided establishments and storage facilities were padlocked and sealed on orders of the BOC. They will be placed on a 24-hour guard,” said the PNP-CIDG director.

Brig. Gen. Caramat said that they launched the operations in coordination with the BOC amid rampant reports of illegal importation of agri-products and hoarding of locally-produced onions and garlics.

“We are continuing our investigation to identify the personalities behind the illegal importation and hoarding of these agri-products relative to the filing of appropriate criminal charges against them,” said the official.

Last week, Speaker Romualdez said that exploitative onion and garlic importers and traders will face charges for economic sabotage as he warned of a government crackdown against them.

“Your days are numbered!..We have information that they are hiding onions, and now also garlic to reduce the supply and increase their prices,” said the Speaker.

According to the House Speaker, the continued high price of onions in the markets despite the harvest of local onion farmers and the entry of imports is a big question.

In this regard, he instructed the House Committee on Agriculture to initiate an investigation and if necessary, recommend the filing of competent charges against hoarders and exploitative traders.

Speaker Romualdez insisted that they may recommend to President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ R. Marcos Jr. the importation of onions and garlic to force businessmen to release their stocks and lower the price, which will be a great relief to consumers.

However, he said they will still study the importation so as not to affect local farmers. This includes the amount to be imported and during the period when the local onion and garlic farmers do not have a harvest that will not affect their livelihood.

Romualdez also said he will be monitoring the price of such vegetables every day and maintained that the smuggling of onions and other similar agricultural products in the country be stopped as they are killing the local industry.