Romualdez lauds law enforcers for heeding call vs ‘evil hoarders’

Romualdez lauds law enforcers for heeding call vs ‘evil hoarders’

MANILA – House of Representatives Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday commended law enforcement agencies for their intensified and relentless campaign against smuggling, thanking them for heeding his call to raid warehouses suspected of hoarding onions and garlic.

“Kinausap natin ang ating law enforcement agencies para i-raid ang warehouses na hinihinalang nasa likod ng hoarding ng sibuyas at bawang. Ito ang nagpapahirap sa taong-bayan na dahilan ng inflation at pagtaas sa presyo ng mga bilihin (We spoke with our law enforcement agencies to raid warehouses that are reportedly behind the hoarding of onions and garlic. Hoarding makes our countrymen suffer and causes inflation and a spike in the prices of basic commodities),” Romualdez said in a statement after an inter-agency task force led by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) immediately delivered results in the fight against the hoarding of onions and garlic.

“Inaasahan natin na magtutuloy-tuloy ang kampanyang ito laban sa mga mapagsamantala (We hope that the campaign against profiteers would be sustained),” he said.

Romualdez issued the statement after the BOC, under new Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio, reported the discovery of about PHP150 million worth of imported onions and garlic stored in 24 separate locations – many of them warehouses – in the cities of Manila and Malabon.

The raids conducted on Feb. 17, came barely a week after Rubio formally took his oath of office and vowed to pursue strategic operations in running after smugglers in the country.

The operations were conducted by a composite team that included operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Coast Guard, and agents of the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service – Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP) based on confirmed intelligence reports of possible smuggling and hoarding activities involving agricultural products, particularly onions and garlic.

“I reiterate my warning to these evil hoarders and unscrupulous businessmen. We are breathing down your necks. Tuldukan na ninyo na ang inyong mga gawain na nagpapahirap sa ating mga kababayan (stop your nefarious activities that are tormenting our countryman),” Romualdez said.

Relentless crackdown

Romualdez has been pushing for a relentless crackdown against “evil hoarders” to protect the welfare of Filipino consumers and farmers, and ensure the sustainability of the local onion and garlic industry.

He pointed out that the smuggling of agricultural products poses a significant threat to these goals, as it causes artificial price increases and significant losses to government revenues and undermines the competitiveness of local farmers.

An ongoing inquiry by the House Committee on Agriculture and Food chaired by Quezon 1st District Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga has linked the recent spikes in the price of onion and garlic to unscrupulous traders who are hoarding such products to create an artificial supply shortage.

During its latest hearing, the committee learned that this artificial shortage is sometimes used as an excuse to facilitate the import of onions, which further hurts local farmers.

The inquiry was launched at Romualdez’s behest.

Mabigat at nagsasanga-sanga ang mga problema na dulot ng hoarding. Nandiyan ang inflation, mga pasakit sa mga magsasaka at konsyumer, at kahirapan. Kaya lalabanan natin ito hanggang sa huli sa tulong ng BOC at lahat ng ating mga ahensiya (The problems caused by hoarding are immense and manifold. These include inflation, hardships to our farmers and consumers, and poverty. That’s why we have to fight this till the end with the help of the BOC and all of our government agencies),” he said.

Even with its recent success against hoarding, it could be noted that the BOC has not been focusing solely on hoarded agricultural products.

On Tuesday, it reported the confiscation of PHP1.5 billion worth of counterfeit luxury or branded goods during an inspection at a storage facility in Pasay City. (PNA)

Leave a Reply