DA-BPI on onion importation: ‘Nothing to hide’
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Plant Industry has nothing to hide following the show-cause order issued by a House of Representatives in relation to agriculture smuggling, DA-BPI Director Glenn Panganiban said.
The House Committee on Agriculture and Food had asked officials from the DA-BPI to explain why they should not be held in contempt after granting permits to import onions in January and August.
The lower chamber had been investigating possible smuggling and hoarding.
Asked if the DA-BPI has an internal probe alongside the House’s, Panganiban said there is one.
“Well, oo, lagi naman kaming ganoon, again, complete staff work lagi. Sa amin naman, wala naman kaming itatago ‘no. We always report this to the Office of the Secretary. And we always coordinate with the AMAS (Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service) and other agencies,” said Panganiban in a Palace briefing.
(Yes, it is always complete staff work. On our end, we do not have anything to hide. We always report this to the Office of the Secretary. And we always coordinate with the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service and other agencies.)
Panganiban insisted that the decision to import is always based on data.
“Hindi naman kami basta-basta nagbubukas ng importation. We always consider what the data shows and what the market also shows us,” said Panganiban.
(We do not casually open importation. We always consider what the data shows and what the market also shows us.)
In January, the country was grappling with sky-high onion prices.
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the concurrent agriculture secretary, had blamed the high agricultural prices at the start of 2023 to smuggling and hoarding.