Committee on Agriculture Chairperson and Quezon Representative Wilfrido Mark Enverga bared that lawmakers will schedule an executive session to discuss if the panel needs to further investigate the proliferation of onion cartels in the country.
The committee has conducted nine hearings already to look into the onion industry and determine whether cartels, hoarding, and price manipulation have caused the skyrocketing of prices of agricultural products.
Marikina City Representative Stella Luz Quimbo identified a certain Leah Cruz as the person operating the biggest onion cartel in the country through the corporation Philippine VIEVA Corporation (PhilVIEVA).
Cruz denied being involved in onion importation.
“Kung sa unang hearing, si Leah Cruz ay denial queen, by hearing number nine, para sa amin, siya ang undisputed sibuyas queen.”
“Kung sa unang hearing, si Leah Cruz ay denial queen, by hearing number nine, para sa amin, siya ang undisputed sibuyas queen. Kaya’t nananawagan po kami sa NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), PCC (Philippine Competition Commission), at DA(Department of Agriculture): pagtulungan niyo pong balatan ang onion cartel,” Quimbo said.
Partners of PhilVIEVA enabled Cruz to import onion despite being blacklisted by the DA.
The legislator explained that partners of PhilVIEVA enabled Cruz to import onion despite being blacklisted by the DA.
The lawmaker’s conclusion is based on information gleaned from the panel’s rigorous collection of numerous public documents, inventory reports, income statements, and registries, as well as interrogation of various government agency officials and persons of interest.
She recognized the support of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and the diligence of Enverga for the Committee’s productivity.
Meanwhile, Enverga said that should Congress decide to conclude the inquiry, the panel would already draft the committee report, which would also contain recommendations for concerned government agencies.
The veteran legislator added that the House would revisit existing laws that need to be reinforced and propose bills that could combat hoarding, profiteering, price racketeering, and cartels.
Quimbo cited bills on
1) creating a competitiveness enhancement fund for onion,
2) registering of traders,
3) amending to the Philippine Competition Act, and
4) enhancing data collection procedures within the DA Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) as some of the measures that may be considered.