Show-cause order issued vs DA officials over granting of permit to import onions
MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives Agriculture and Food Committee on Tuesday approved the issuance of a show-cause order against officials of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant and Industry (DA-BPI) to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for granting permits to import onions in the country last January and August this year.
During the lower chamber’s investigation on possible smuggling, hoarding, and price manipulation of agricultural commodities, lawmakers pointed out that DA-BPI erred in granting permission to import onions, given that it is already harvest season for the commodity until February next year.
Based on the data received by the committee from the DA-BPI officials, Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. revealed that the agency issued a permit for the importation of 5,775,000 kilograms of red and yellow onions in January and 12,485,000 kilograms of yellow onions this August.
“Mali ang DA-BPI sa pag-issue ng import permit sapagka’t apektado ang ating farmers. Kung hindi pa nag-request ang farmers, hindi kayo mag-request doon sa mga improters na i-delay ang importation,” Barzaga lamented.
(The DA-BPI is wrong in issuing import permits because our farmers are affected. If the farmers did not make a request, you would not ask the importers to delay the importation.)
After which, the Cavite lawmaker made the motion requiring DA-BPI officials to explain why they should not be cited in contempt for this decision, which Barzaga said “would affect local farmers who are producing onions.”
It was seconded by Leyte Rep. Richard Gomez, prompting committee chairperson and Quezon Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga to approve the motion as he directed the committee secretary to draft the show-cause order.
On the other hand, Gomez suggested that DA-BPI officials allow the importation during planting season and disallow the operation of cold storage if their owners failed to complete the requirements.
He added that their list of cold storage from DA-BPI should be checked and passed to local government units, which can cancel business permits until owners complete the pertinent documents for operation.
Moreover, he also recommended that DA-BPI officials undergo lifestyle checks to determine the existence of any ill-gotten and unexplained wealth of officials and employees of the government.
Gomez’ recommendation was seconded by Barzaga and likewise approved by Enverga.