Onion price manipulators face raps

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla yesterday said charges are set to be filed on Monday against perpetrators behind the smuggling and price manipulation of onions.

He said they have charges to be filed but they opted to move it on Monday, 18 September.

Remulla said some investigators requested to file the other raps on Monday for price manipulation, profiteering, and other crimes related to the onion price manipulation and smuggling crisis the country had for the past two months.

He said the National Bureau of Investigation and an undersecretary of the DoJ will handle the matter.

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in July ordered the DOJ and NBI to investigate the smuggling of onions and other agricultural products.

In his State of the Nation Address, Marcos even warned agri-smugglers that their “days are numbered”  as he blamed hoarders for the rising prices of agricultural products.

“One of the reasons of rising prices is the presence of smugglers, hoarders and manipulators of agricultural products. We will look for them and file complaints against them,” Marcos said.

According to the Presidential Communications Office, Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo said in a Memorandum to the President that there was substantial evidence pointing to the existence of an onion cartel which could be behind the surge in onion prices in 2022.

“I have just given instructions to the DOJ and the NBI to initiate an investigation into the hoarding, smuggling, [and] price fixing of agricultural commodities,” Marcos said in a video message.

“And this is stemming from the hearing that we’ve conducted in the House, specifically by Congresswoman Stella Quimbo and the findings that they came up with,” Quimbo added.

The President, who is also the secretary of agriculture, stressed the importance of these findings as sufficient grounds to initiate a probe, citing the need to address what amounts to economic sabotage.

He said this is the reason they are going to be very, very strict about finding the people and making sure that they are brought to justice.

The DoJ was prompted to create the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Task Force, which includes the Bureau of Customs and the Department of Agriculture.

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