MANILA — Sen. Cynthia Villar recently urged the government to investigate public officials and even private individuals who are involved in garlic cartel.
Villar raised the appeal to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to further investigate the alleged garlic cartel in the agricultural industry that paved way for skyrocketing prices of the said product.
A 32-page report from the DOJ-Office for Competition showed that Lilia Cruz, a.k.a Leah Cruz, and three other people are involved in the supposed garlic cartel in the Philippines. They also used dummy importers during the operations.
It was also discovered that there is a lack of transparency and guidelines from the Bureau of Plant Industry Permit System. The DOJ report also stated that Cruz got at least 75 percent of the total importation of garlic.
Villar spearheaded the public hearings on the issue held last July. It showed that there is a 900 percent profit margin on garlic involving and benefiting importers and not the local producers of garlic.
“We then urged all concerned government agencies to strike hard on garlic traders who are said to profit some P26 billion annually,” said Villar
She added, “I hope this could serve as warning to others who are engaged in this kind of modus operandi to stop their illicit operations or face charges. We are here to protect all industry players, especially our garlic farmers.”
Aside from this, Villar also plans to review the directive of the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT). NGAT is under the DA which was founded in 2012 to ensure supply of garlic in the country.
The senator revealed that NGAT failed to do its responsibility in light of the garlic cartel issue.