Argo official, counsel yield

Two individuals cited for contempt by the House of Representatives voluntarily surrendered a week after the ruling and now will be detained in Congress.

House agricultural and food panel chairperson Mark Enverga disclosed Tuesday that Argo president and general manager Efren Zoleta and legal counsel Atty. Jan Ryan Cruz — both absent last week on the panel’s motu proporio on reported price manipulation of onions — had already turned themselves on Monday.

Zoleta, Cruz, and Argo representative Patrick John Sevilla were all cited in contempt after Sevilla earned the ire of the committee when he refused to disclose the clients who stored red onions in their facility in Nueva Ecija at the height of the price spike last year, citing a confidentiality clause in a service agreement.

Sevilla was the only person present at last week’s hearing and is still serving his 10-day detention in the House. Lifted in exchange for cooperation

The panel, however, had a change of heart following Cruz’s appeal to lift the House’s contempt orders against them.

Enverga disclosed that the panel greenlighted Cruz’s request in exchange for their cooperation on the inquiry into the alleged hoarding and price manipulation of agricultural commodities, mainly onions.

“Signifying their willingness to cooperate, help in the ongoing inquiry and having complied with the documentary requirements requested, the Committee unanimously agreed to lift the contempt orders and begin the process of their release,” the chairman said.

Last week, following a vote of 35 out of 49 present in the quorum, Enverga cited the Argo officials in contempt.

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