The Department of Agriculture has indefinitely suspended the proposed suggested retail price for onions after Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban failed to sign the necessary documents that will authorize the imposition of a lower SRP for the commodity.
Despite this, there were several wet market retailers that immediately adjusted their prices in compliance with the DA directive.
According to Bantay Presyo, the daily price monitoring of basic agricultural produce by the DA, some retailers have dropped their selling price to P150 per kilogram while there are those who have set the retail price to as low as P100/kg.
Agriculture spokesperson Rex Estoperez said there must be a reason why Panganiban has not signed the SRP authorization.
“Looks like he is not convinced with the cost structure presented to set the SRP. For now, we’re not announcing any SRP for onions,” he said.
While the SRP is on hold, the DA said it will focus on the inspection of more cold storage areas to give traders a chance to release more onions to the supply chain and allow prices to stabilize.
An aggrupation of farmers and agriculture stakeholders have wondered why the DA would delay the enforcement of the SRP.
“We don’t know if there is pressure to hold or to not implement, at all, the planned SRP but for us, we saw that after the consultations, there were retailers who were quick to comply with the SRP,” said Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) executive director Jayson Cainglet.
The DA has subjected onions to SRP twice since prices ran haywire in 2022.
Retailers are hard-pressed to comply with the SRP since the wholesale price for which they acquired the commodity is higher than the proposed SRP by the DA.
Since retailers are having difficulties complying with the DA directive, the Senate proposed to introduce a Suggested Wholesale Price (SWSP) instead of SRP.
However, the DTI said that under the Price Act, the only allowable price monitoring measure is the SRP.
“Maybe there should be a provision of law (under the Price Act) that may authorize such action,“ said Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual.
Meanwhile, the DA is also assessing if they can simplify the importation of sugar without the sugar order which under the Price Act is an allowable action if sanctioned by the President using his executive power.
However, Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said that it will be a violation of the Customs Modernization Act if sugar importation is allowed without a sugar order.
“This government cannot and should not be allowed to bypass current policies in favor of importation as it heavily affects the lives of
thousands of sugar farmers in the country,” she said.
Senator Koko Pimentel, meanwhile, stressed that sugar importation should only be allowed with documentary requirements such as the sugar