House leader orders committee probe, charges vs onion ‘hoarders’
THE HOUSE Speaker on Sunday directed the agriculture and food committee to conduct a probe and possibly recommend the filing of charges against alleged “unscrupulous traders and hoarders of onion and garlic.”
“Your days are numbered,” Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said in a statement, calling the suspected hoarding activities an act of economic sabotage.
“We received information that these people are hoarding onions, and more recently even garlic, to create an artificial scarcity in supply and induce price increases,” he added.
Onion prices shot up to as much as P700 per kilo in recent months, prompting a Senate investigation where some farmers said traders actually bought their supply at farm gate prices of P8 to P15.
The onion controversy has also raised issues on importation and smuggling.
During a House agriculture committee meeting on Jan. 25, the Bureau of Plant Industry was unable to explain why onion prices soared last month. Last week, it deliberated on proposed measures looking to create institutes that would develop the local onion industry.
Mr. Romualdez also said that the committee should look into recommending a “calibrated importation of onion and garlic” to “force these unscrupulous individuals to unload their stocks and drive down the prices.” — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz