Ombudsman dismisses DA Asec Evangelista

Ombudsman dismisses DA Asec Evangelista

/ 07:55 PM October 27, 2023

Ombudsman dismisses DA Asec Evangelista

File photo of the Office of the Ombudsman. INQUIRER/NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal from service of Agriculture Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista and other Department of Agriculture (DA) officials, after investigations into the alleged shortage of onions and supposed manipulation of prices.

In an order released to reporters on Friday, Evangelista was found guilty of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the service, which merited dismissal from the service.


Similarly, Food Terminal Incorporated (FTI) Vice President for Operations John Gabriel Benedict Trinidad III was dismissed for gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the service.


It could be recalled that last August, Evangelista and Trinidad were among five DA and FTI officials suspended by the Ombudsman, over an allegedly anomalous purchase of onions for Kadiwa stores — shops opened by DA which sell cheaper goods facilitated by direct transactions between farmers and the government.

According to Ombudsman Samuel Martires, the DA entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with FTI on a Kadiwa Food Hub project even if FTI already had entered into an agreement with Bonena, an agricultural trader.

Meanwhile, charges against Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban, Administrative Officer Eunice Biblanias, Chief Accountant officer in charge Lolita Jamela, and FTI budget division head Juanita Lualhati were dropped due to insufficiency of evidence.

READ: DA, FTI officials suspended over onion purchases 

During the latter months of 2022, prices of onions skyrocketed to around P450 to P700 per kilogram, prompting Congress to probe the issue.

After the hearings, House committee on agriculture and food chair and Quezon 1st District Rep. Mark Enverga, along with Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo revealed that they have identified which of the individuals they invited are really involved in agricultural smuggling.


According to Quimbo, she is convinced that controversial agriculture trader Lilia Cruz remains the “undisputed sibuyas (onion) queen”, claiming that the businesswoman’s prints are all over the supply chain.

Quimbo explained that cartels were able to hoard onions and manipulate prices by creating a fake shortage in cold storage facilities — forcing farmers to sell their produce at lower prices due to fears that onions might only get spoiled if not stored properly.

She also noted that cartels also claim that onion prices would crash due to the impending arrival of cheaper imports.

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With the traders — or the cartel —  having control over a huge supply of onions, prices would rise sharply under the law of supply and demand.  The cartels can then make onion deliveries using their trucking companies, selling these for higher prices despite obtaining them at a lower cost, according to Quimbo.

TAGS: DA, Department of Agriculture, dismissal, Ombudsman, onion, order

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