Lawmaker calls on Agri secretary Alcala to take an LOA over garlic racket

By , on January 12, 2015

Garlic from a recent harvest in Santa Rosa, Nueva Ecija. Ramon F. Velasquez / Wikipedia photo
Wikipedia photo

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has been urged by senior administration congressman Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian (NPC, Valenzuela City) to voluntarily take a leave of absence, in light of allegation tying him to activities of the the multi-billion peso “garlic cartel.”

The existence of the garlic cartel, along with their illicit activities – such as price fixing, and supply manipulation – was recently confirmed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Gatchalian yesterday challenged Alcala to temporarily step-down from his post, as he cited the example set by former Health Secretary Enrique Ona, who gave up his position during the NBI’s investigation imnto anomalies surrounding the Department of Health’s purchase of pneumonia vaccines.

“Secretary Alcala should face a thorough probe by the NBI since his being linked to the garlic cartel is a very serious allegation that must be investigated to the fullest,” Gatchalian said.

Alcala is one among a number of Department of Agriculture officials being investigated by the NBI for the purported garlic fiasco which caused the prices of garlic to skyrocket some months ago.

The illicit activities were earlier exposed by Elizabeth “Lilybeth” Valenzuela, a garlic importer who stated under oath that former Bureau of Plant Industry Director Clarito Barron directed garlic importers to secure Alcala’s “blessing” so they could be issued the corresponding import permits.