Speaker Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday commended the government’s intensified and relentless campaign against smuggling as he also thanked law enforcement agencies for heeding his call to raid warehouses in suspected of hoarding onions and garlic.
The lawmaker said they have been coordinating with law enforcement agencies regarding raids of warehouses suspected to hoarding agri products such as onions.
“Kinausap natin ang ating law enforcement agencies para i-raid ang warehouses na hinihinalang nasa likod ng hoarding ng sibuyas at bawang. Ito ang nagpapahirap sa taong-bayan na dahilan ng inflation at pagtaas sa presyo ng mga bilihin,” Romualdez said after an inter-agency task force led by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) immediately delivered results in the fight against hoarding of onions and garlic.
Romualdez issued the statement after the BOC, under the newly-minted leadership of Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio, reported the discovery of around P150 million worth of imported onions and garlic stored in 24 separate locations—many of them warehouses—in the cities of Manila and Malabon.
“I reiterate my warning to these evil hoarders and unscrupulous businessmen. We are breathing down your necks. Tuldukan na ninyo na ang inyong mga gawain na nagpapahirap sa ating mga kababayan,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez called for the crackdown as he stressed the importance of protecting the welfare not only of Filipino consumers but of the farmers as well by ensuring the sustainability of the local onion and garlic industry.
He pointed out that smuggling of agricultural products poses a significant threat to these goals, as it causes artificial price increases, significant losses to the government’s revenue, and undermines the competitiveness of local farmers.
Carrying Letters of Authority (LOA) from Rubio based on confirmed intelligence report of possible smuggling and hoarding activities, the composite team that included operatives from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), agents of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service-Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP) raided the warehouses.
An ongoing inquiry by the House Committee on Agriculture and Food chaired by Quezon 1st district Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga has linked the recent spikes in the price of onion and garlic to unscrupulous traders who are hoarding such products to create an artificial supply shortage.
In its latest hearing, the committee learned that this artificial shortage is sometimes used as an excuse to facilitate the importation of onions, which further hurt local farmers. The inquiry was launched at Romualdez’s behest.
“Mabigat at nagsasanga-sanga ang mga problema na dulot ng hoarding. Nandiyan ang inflation, mga pasakit sa mga magsasaka at konsyumer, at kahirapan. Kaya lalabanan natin ito hanggang sa huli sa tulong ng BOC at lahat ng ating mga ahensiya,” the Speaker declared.
The BOC hasn’t been focusing solely on hoarded agricultural products.
On Tuesday, it reported the confiscation of P1.5 billion worth of counterfeit luxury or branded goods.
The contraband was seized during an inspection at a storage facility in Pasay City.