SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Sunday urged concerned authorities to pursue the leads uncovered by the lower chamber’s probe into an alleged onion cartel and file charges to end their illegal scheme.
The Speaker aired this call after Marikina City 2nd District Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo named interconnected personalities and business entities involved in the onion trade that—taken together with their operation, resources and influence—bear the hallmarks of a cartel.
“I call on the concerned authorities like the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine Competition Commission and the Department of Agriculture to work together to stamp out this cartel and spare our people from further suffering caused by their unscrupulous trade practices,” Romualdez said in a statement.
“The extensive hearings conducted by the House have already provided good leads which our authorities can follow to build an air tight case and prosecute those involved,” he added.
Romualdez noted that, among others, unfair trade practices may be prosecuted under the Philippine Competition Act (PCA), which penalizes businesses found to have engaged in anti-competitive agreements with a fine of up to P100 million, and imprisonment of up to 7 years.
The fines may be tripled if trade of basic necessities, including agricultural products identified by the Price Act, are involved in cartel or abuse of dominance violations.
“The Filipino people deserve to have access to affordable food. We will not rest until we achieve this goal,” he stressed.
It could be recalled that when prices of onion surged to over P700 a kilo in December last year Speaker Romualdez called for a congressional investigation in aid of legislation to address the issue.
In her statement, Quimbo tagged Lilia or Leah Cruz as “Sibuyas Queen” who is at the center of her onion cartel theory, as well as the Philippine VIEVA Group of Companies (PhilVIEVA) and its allied firms.