Villar seeks Senate probe on high prices of garlic and onions

By Jelly F. Musico

MANILA, (PNA) – Alarmed by the high prices of garlic and onions, Senator Cynthia Villar on Wednesday filed a resolution calling for Senate inquiry into the proliferation of imported garlic and onions being controlled by a select group.

In her Senate Resolution No. 238, Villar cited Article XII of the Constitution which states that “the goals of national economy are a more equitable distribution of opportunities, income, and wealth.”

”A sustained increase in the amount of goods and services produced by the nation for the benefit of the people, and an expanding productivity as the key to raising the quality of life for all, especially the underprivileged,” Villar added as continued to cite the provision of the Constitution.

Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said the Department of Agriculture should explain on the issuance of permits for their importation of garlic and onions.

Villar said the Senate should scrutinize the present policies and practices on the importation of garlic and onions vis-à-vis claims of monopolization in the distribution of these agricultural products.

With the inquiry, she said, the Senate will be able to come up with appropriate policies to avoid prejudicing the consuming public.

She noted that the lack of new import permits limits the number of onion and garlic distributors to a select group in the country, triggering the increase of the prices of the agricultural goods at a relatively high market price and earn large profits.

“The proliferation of imported garlic and onions in the market has adversely affected the local producers,” cited the former representative of Las Pinas.

She said the consuming public will be greatly affected by the increased prices in onion and garlic.

Under Department of Agriculture Administrative Order No. 18, series of 2000, Villar said an Import Permit (SPS Certificate) is required prior to the importation of agricultural products, live animals, plants, fishes, as well as their products and by-products.

She said a case has already been filed before the Regional Trial Court of Manila against the DA, Bureau of Plant Industry, and the Plant Quarantine Services to compel the said agencies to issue importation permits.

The Philippine Federation of Food Industry Inc. (PFFII) had earlier filed with Manila RTC an auction for mandamus against Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, BPI director Clarito Barron and Plant Quarantine Service (PQS) chief Luben Marasigan to issue importation permits for garlic and onions.

The BPI, through its attached agency PQS, issues import permits for plant and plant products through a sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) clearance.