Agri trader tagged in alleged onion smuggling skips House inquiry | Inquirer News
SAYS SHE HAS ‘EQUALLY IMPORTANT COMMITMENTS’

Agri trader tagged in alleged onion smuggling skips House inquiry

/ 08:18 PM February 27, 2023

Lilia “Leah” Cruz. STORY: Agri trader tagged in onion smuggling skips House inquiry

Lilia “Leah” Cruz denied being involved in smuggling onions and garlic during the inquiry conducted by House Committee on Agriculture and Food on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. (Photo from the Facebook page of the House of Representatives)

MANILA, Philippines — An agricultural trader accused of being involved in alleged onion smuggling did not show up at an inquiry of the House of Representatives on Monday to attend to “equally important commitments.”

Lilia “Leah” Cruz relayed her excuse through her legal counsel, Kenneth Bryan Tegio, during the inquiry of the Committee on Agriculture and Food into the possible hoarding of farm products like onions.

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“She informed [me] that prior to receiving the notice, she already made equally important commitments,” Tegio said.

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Quezon 1st district Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga, the committee chair, lamented Cruz’s absence, saying she had a lot of questions to answer.

“Given the previous hearing, there are several matters that she even committed to submit to this committee,” Enverga said.

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Cruz, who attended the Feb. 8 hearing, vehemently denied all of the allegations thrown against her.

“Can you remind Ms. Cruz that she is required to attend?” Enverga asked Tegio. The lawyer said yes.

Cruz’s absence did not sit well with Cavite 4th district Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr.

“Do you think that the commitment of your client is much more important than the hearing scheduled today?” Barzaga asked the lawyer.

Tegio apologized for his client’s absence.

Pressed by Barzaga as to what “equally important” commitments Cruz had, Tegio said: “I was informed by my client, Your Honor, that she already committed to visit some of her farmers that would require her to travel to provinces.”

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Cruz’s got some public attention again in October 2022 when Sen. Raffy Tulfo named her as one of the alleged agricultural smugglers in the country.

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