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Salceda heaped praises over onion scandal

By Manuel T. Ugalde

LEGAZPI CITY --- For taking the cudgel over the onion scandal he described as worse and world most expensive, Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda has earned high praises, not only from Albay but throughout the country as well.

Onion which is sibuyas in Filipino, used to sell 50 pesos a kilo before the 2022 election. Like tomatoes and garlic, sibuyas grows even in household backyard, rain or shinny season. But sibuyas sudden spike in an unprecedented cost from P400 to P600 a kilo in the market, prompted Salceda to unleash a ballistic accusation against the Marcos administration, pointing to prominent traders engage in smuggling and hoarding that Salceda said, passing through the Bureau of Customs in Subic, Zambales. Sibuyas, like garlic is among the ingredients used for cooking.

“Wow, my idol Albay congressman is now howling against the government, said a senior citizen, who regularly spend a morning coffee break in a coffee shop at the Ayala Mall in Legazpi. The source was referring to Salceda, a prominent lawmaker known for his harmonious political alliance with presidents since becoming a congressman and governor more than two decades ago.

Salceda is largely known as a no ballistic politician, however, undefeated. During his term as governor for two consecutive terms, he was perceived as the Bicol leading political leader, who made a name in climate change and pre-emptive response for a zero casualty, in time of disaster. He was the proponent of the Bicol International Airport.

Many in the social media posted allout praises of Salceda for mouthing against “sibuyas” scandal, which the perpetrators eventually turned out in media reports as those identified with the presidential family.

A source said that Salceda, with reputation of talking backed by facts, is an effective critic – that is -- if he would only exercise his right to talk against abuses in the government, even if he is not identified as an opposition. It’s the first time I heard of him unleashing an angry mouth against hoarders and smugglers involving onion product under a president he did not support during the last presidential election. And to think President Marcos Jr. is also the acting agriculture secretary.

Although Salceda did not name names involve in the onion hoarding, a few days after he made the noise, a prominent journalist-columnist Ramon Tulfo of the Philippine Star, was fired after exposing the names of the chinese trader involve in sibuyas smuggling and hoarding he identified as business partner of the brother of First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos.

Knowing the reputation of Salceda, he could have known these people directly involve in the smuggling of onions when he blew the whistle, the source disclosed. I hope Salceda would change his behavior in toying the administration on matter of national and international concern, the source added, citing graft and corruption issue at the Department of Public Works and Highways where lawmakers are perceived very much involve over pork barrel issue, which the Supreme Court had already declared unconstitutional.

Prominently known of having the propensity to bolt from his political affiliation every presidential elections, however, this did not cost Salceda a defeat no matter how pathetically he’s pilloried nationally, both by his critics and allies, including his own constituents, citing during the administration of President Arroyo, when Salceda abandoned presidential bet, Gilbert Teodoro a couple of months before election. It was Salceda who accompanied Teodoro in the filing of his Certifiicate of Candidacy right at the Commission on Election regional office in Legazpi City. During the time of President Benigno Aquino III, Salceda also abandoned their presidential bet Mar Roxas shortly before election, in favor of Grace Poe.

The test about Salceda humility in handling political repercussions occurred during his bid to run for the second district. He suffered wholesale humiliation from fellow Albay lawmakers over his overkill handling of a hundred thousands of evacuees in cramped evacuation centers following the Mayon eruption. Fellow Albay lawmakers accused then Gov. Salceda during the locally held lawmakers convention at the National Economic Development Authority regional office in Legazpi City, for allegedly taking over the role of the Philippine Institute of Volcanologists officials on the status of Mayon, allegedly to win foreign donations. Even the media had the heyday unleashing attacks against Salceda, who simply kept on himself in stride all the painful words penned and mouthed against him.

Despite of this painful political encounter, however, Salceda never had negative words or reactions against his detractors, said the source, even as he urge the Albay lawmaker to continue exposing misdeeds in the government, for the sake of the Filipinos.


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