By Juan Escandor Jr.
NAGA CITY---About 75 percent of imported onion and garlic are controlled by cartel, according to the chair of the Senate committee on agriculture.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, who heads the agriculture committee at the Senate, said the cartel uses cooperatives’ importation permits as well as companies created by private individuals.
Villar said these cooperatives and companies become part of the cartel that controls the importation of onion and garlic.
She cited the report from the Office of Competition of the Department of Justice that only 25 percent of the imported onion and garlic are not under the control of the cartel.
Villar said that companies that had been identified as cartel operators in 2014 were still accredited importers of onion and garlic.
“That’s why we will ask the Department of Agriculture why they (cartel members) are not blacklisted and cases should had been filed against them,” she said.
Villar said she would continue the inquiry in the Senate on the operations of a cartel in onion and garlic importation.
On July 10, Villar scolded Director Vivencio Mamaril of the Buareau of Plant Industry (BPI) during a hearing at her committee for the agency’s failure to stop the operations of onion and garlic cartels, which are believed responsible for the rising prices of onion and garlic in the market.
“We will meet with the Office of Competition and the newly-created Philippine Competition Commission, and plan out what action we will take with regards to the cartel control on the onion and garlic importation because those cartel operators were not blacklisted,” Villar revealed.
She said what she wanted to happen is to remove the control of cartel on the onion and garlic importation.
“We want them to sell onion and garlic at reasonable price to the consumers and allow our onion and garlic farmers to produce as much as they want so that they will earn,” Villar said.
She added that the farmers must be assisted and the consumers treated fairly.