Senator says 75% of garlic, onion supply controlled by cartel
NAGA CITY — The chair of the Senate committee on agriculture said up to 75 percent of the country’s supply of garlic and onion is controlled by a cartel, citing data from the Department of Justice.
Sen. Cynthia Villar, who heads the agriculture committee at the Senate, said cooperatives that have permits to import garlic and onions sell these permits to the cartel.
She added that some private individuals create companies that become part of the cartel. Villar, a guest at the fifth Philippine Agriculturists’ Summit here, did not name names.
She said companies that had been identified as cartel operators in 2014 were still among the accredited importers of onion and garlic.
“That’s why we will ask the Department of Agriculture why they (cartel members) are not blacklisted,” she said.
Villar said she would continue the inquiry in the Senate on the operations of a cartel in garlic and onion importation.
On July 10, Villar scolded Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) director Vivencio Mamaril during a hearing at her committee for the agency’s failure to stop the operations of garlic cartels, which are believed responsible for the rising prices of garlic in the market.
The committee on agriculture and food is conducting
an investigation of rising garlic costs.
Villar threatened to file charges against the BPI on behalf of garlic farmers if the agency failed to put a stop to the operations of cartels and smugglers. —JUAN ESCANDOR JR.
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