The speaker of the House of Representatives has directed the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to study the option of recommending to the President the calibrated importation of onion and garlic.
Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez made a statement on Sunday as he warned unscrupulous traders and hoarders of onion and garlic suspected of being behind the continued high prices of these agricultural products in the market.
According to Romualdez, he has instructed the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to conduct an investigation and, if warranted by the evidence, recommend the filing of appropriate criminal charges against the people behind this scheme.
“This is economic sabotage,” he said.
Also, he said the House panel “will study the option of recommending to the President the calibrated importation of onion and garlic as a means to force these unscrupulous individuals to unload their stocks and drive down the prices to alleviate the burden on the consumers.”
For his part, House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Mark Enverga said his committee will immediately conduct its probe against unscrupulous traders and hoarders of onion and garlic in aid of legislation.
“As discussed and instructed by Speaker Martin Romualdez, the committee on agriculture and food will prioritize an inquiry and investigation on unscrupulous traders and hoarders of onion and garlic in aid of legislation,” Enverga told the BusinessMirror via Viber.
“It is high time that we put an end to such an unconscionable practice that affects both our local farmers and consumers. We will act on this matter immediately.”
Romualdez noted reports that despite the ongoing harvest season and the entry of imported onions, retail prices remained high.
“We received information that these people are hoarding onion, and more recently even garlic, to create an artificial scarcity in supply and induce price increases.”
However, Romualdez said that such importation should not in any way prejudice the welfare of the local farmers.
“It is very important to ensure that any importation should consist of such quantity and be done well ahead of the harvest season to avoid any adverse effect on the livelihood of our local farmers.”
Apart from the investigation, Romualdez wants daily monitoring of the prices of onion and garlic in local markets.
“People are still trying to recover from the pandemic. The last thing we need is an unreasonable rise in food prices.”
Romualdez also said concerned government agencies should address the smuggling of onion and other agricultural products that stifles the local industry.