November 29, 2023

House to press fight against hoarders, price manipulators

A RANKING leader of the House committee on agriculture and food today welcomed the news of recent price reduction of onions by P10 per kilo, but stressed that the House of Representatives will not stop in its fight against hoarders and price manipulators.

“We commend the efforts of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in stabilizing the retail prices of essential commodities, and we welcome as good news its report that the retail price of onions has decreased by P10 per kilo, with the cost of the red bulbs going down to P130 per kilo from the previous P140 per kilo,” said Deputy Majority Leader Rep. David Suarez (2nd Dist., Quezon Province).

“Buoyed by this development, and upon the instruction of Speaker Martin Romualdez, the House Committee on Agriculture and Food will intensify its investigation on hoarders and price manipulators not only of onions but of other staple food items like rice,” Suarez said.

Suarez said Speaker Romualdez made it clear that the House of Representatives will extend all out support to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s call for an all-out war against those involved in smuggling, hoarding and price manipulation.

“Our mission order is clear: there is no room for smugglers, hoarders and price manipulators under this administration,” he stressed.

Suarez noted that the recent price reduction of onions and the filing of criminal charges against those involved in artificial shortage of onion have proven the efficacy of the collaboration between the executive department and the House of Representatives in the war against profiteering.

“The continuing reduction in the price of onion is a testament to the effectiveness of our strategies against price manipulation and profiteering. However, it does not signify the end of our mission. The Speaker said there will be no let-up in our committee investigation until we break down the cartels responsible for hoarding and artificial shortages of basic commodities,” Suarez said.

Suarez acknowledged the DA’s diligent monitoring which has led to stable prices for onions, garlic, and other commodities, saying the assurance from Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa regarding the ample supply of vegetables, including potatoes, up to the first quarter of 2024, is indeed a positive development. 

He said the expected stabilization of retail prices for potatoes and the significant reduction in the price of local chili, which has decreased from P800 per kilo in September to a range of P200 to P350 per kilo, are also laudable achievements.

“However, while we celebrate these gains, we remain committed to ensuring that no individual or entity takes undue advantage of our citizens. The recent controversy surrounding the onion crisis in 2022, where prices skyrocketed to as high as P720 per kilo, serves as a stark reminder of the challenges we face,” Suarez pointed out.

“The House Committee on Food and Agriculture will leave no stone unturned in our pursuit to protect consumers from unscrupulous traders. We are committed to working hand-in-hand with the DA and other relevant agencies to ensure that the Filipino people are safeguarded from price manipulations and hoarding activities,” he added.

Suarez said the executive department, for their part, must continue with the filing of cases and in prosecuting all those involved these cartels until they are put behind bars and locked up for good.