Osmeña: Ombudsman should suspend Alcala
MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman should suspend Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, who was implicated in the alleged garlic cartel in the country that resulted in a surge of prices last year, Senator Serge Osmeña said on Thursday.
“I think he (Alcala) should be suspended at least while investigations are going on, but that’s up to the Ombudsman siguro,” Osmeña said during a weekly forum at the Senate when asked about the string of corruption allegations against government officials.
The latest allegation against Alcala was made by a certain Lilybeth Valenzuela, a garlic importer, who claimed that at least P200 million was paid to officials of the Bureau of Plant and Industry (BPI) over the past five years in exchange for import permits for garlic that resulted in a surge in prices in 2014.
Valenzuela was also quoted in media reports as saying that former BPI Director Clarito Barron had told importers that they must have Alcala’s “blessings” first before they could be issued the import permits.
Osmeña was convinced that the issuance of import permits indeed got the blessings of Alcala.
“Oo lahat yan may blessings ng Secretary,” said the senator.
Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said these allegations against the Agriculture chief were “very serious that must be investigated to the fullest.”
“This is not the first time allegations of corruption have been hurled against Secretary Alcala. Either someone is really out to destroy, get him, or, as the saying goes, where there is smoke, there is fire,” Escudero said in a text message to reporters.
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