House Speaker Martin Romualdez on Tuesday asked profit-hungry traders manipulating or hoarding the supply and prices of agricultural products such as onion to “moderate their greed” or suffer the dire consequences.
“We’ll be working closely with the Executive, with the Department of Agriculture [DA], to make sure these hoarders and all these foolish activities of traders are stopped,” Romualdez said in an interview.
“My message is: moderate your greed, release the supply of these basic commodities—these vegetables, whether they be onion, garlic. Moderate your greed, give us fair prices, if not, your days are numbered, we’re going after all of you,” he said.
Last Monday, Romualdez and other leaders of the House met with representatives from the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) where he called for an all-out war against profiteers preying on hapless consumers.
Romualdez said he has already directed House Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairman and Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga to get to the bottom of the situation.
“We’d like to tell the public that the House of Representatives will use all its resources, and employ all its efforts to ensure that we bring back stable prices and stable supply of these basic commodities,” the Speaker said.
According to Romualdez, there is no reason for the prices of commodities such as onion and garlic to soar sky-high because there is sufficient supply based on information reaching the House.
“It only points out to one thing, there is hoarding, there is price manipulation. So we are warning those who are behind these nefarious activities—that your days are numbered, the House will be going after you,” Romualdez said.
“So stop this foolishness, bring back the supply, stabilize it, and work with us. And if not, you’re against us—your days are numbered,” he added.
Romualdez already told officials of the DA and DTI to name traders suspected of manipulating the supply and prices of onion, garlic, and other agricultural commodities so the House can invite them in the forthcoming congressional investigation to be conducted by the Committee on Agriculture.
“If you know who these people are, let us know. We will invite all of them, if not, have the authorities arrest them,” he said.
Romualdez said the House recognizes the right of businessmen under a regime of free trade to earn profit but it should not come at the expense and misery of the people.
The Speaker assured the officials from DA and DTI that they would have the full support of the House in waging an all-out war against hoarders and erring traders of onion and other agricultural products.
“We will help you, that’s why we’re here. You will not be powerless. We will use the power of the House. We will shine the light on them and then we will take them to account for this,” Romualdez told the DA and DTI officials.