Speaker Romualdez enlists DA, DTI to fight onion, agri product hoarders
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez on Monday met with representatives from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to find solutions and identify responsible parties for the current onion and garlic hoarding situation.
Romualdez on Sunday warned hoarders and traders manipulating the supply and prices of onion and garlic, as well as other agricultural commodities that they will be charged once the House of Representatives conducts its probe.
“If you know who these people are, let us know. We will invite all of them, if not, have the authorities arrest them,” Romualdez said in a statement.
Romualdez said that concerned agencies must ensure closer cooperation and get their acts together to ensure an effective campaign against hoarders and manipulative traders, noting that the agencies give different data on the situation.
“We are also giving budget to the DA and your agency so we want to make sure you are performing optimally,” said Romualdez.
“It doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment—but we want to get there. Because at the end of the day, with the best data, the best feedback, we can make the best policies so we can avoid this situation where some unscrupulous personalities and cartels are taking advantage of the situation,” he added.
Romualdez then assured the officials from DA and DTI of the lower chamber’s full support in waging “an all-out war against hoarders and erring traders of onion and other agricultural products.”
“We will help you, that’s why we’re here. You will not be powerless. We will use the power of the House. We will shine the light on them and then we will take them to account for this,” Speaker Romualdez told the DA and DTI officials present in the meeting.
“We will ask our Chairman (of the Committee on Agriculture) [Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga] all the power and all the resources to get to the bottom of this,” Romualdez added.
Among the DA officials present during the meeting were Policy, Planning and Regulations Usec. Mercedita Sombilla; Consumer Affairs Asec. Kristine Evangelista; and Inspectorate and Enforcement Asec. James Layug.
Those who represented DTI were Usec. Ruth Castelo of Consumer Protection Group; Werlina Lim, Division Chief, Price and Supply Division; Marco Maat, Deputy Department Legislative Liaison Officer; and Ma. Concepcion Simeon, Department Legislative Liaison Specialist.
Apart from the agreement, the meeting also led to plans for DA to tap into its P276 million Kadiwa Food Mobilization Fund under the 2023 budget to buy the harvest of farmers at prices higher than the production cost, and sell it through Kadiwa at the farm gate prices to force hoarders to unload their stocks.
According to Evangelista in the same statement, the DA will buy the harvest of onion farmers at P50 per kilo, or higher than the P20 per kilo production cost, and sell it at Kadiwa outlets as part of the overall strategy.
“Our target is supposed to be farmgate price, pero dapat kumita si farmer. If our cost to produce is at P20 and then through Kadiwa its going to be bought at P50 (per kilo), tapos mabenta natin at farmgate,” Evangelista said.
The said scheme, according to Evengelista, is not exclusive to onion and may be applied to other agricultural products as well.
Apart from buying the produce of local farmers, the DA also vowed to provide access to cold storage facilities.
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