MANILA — Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Monday welcomed the move of the Department of Agriculture to impose a suggested retail price (SRP) for onions to protect consumers from profiteers and price manipulators as he also pressed for a crackdown against the onion cartel.
Earlier a ranking official of the DA said they will likely start Tuesday, or within this week, the implementation of an SRP of P150 per kilo for red onions and P140 per kilo for white onions with a warning that refusal to comply could mean prosecution under appropriate charges.
“The imposition of a Suggested Retail Price for onions, particularly now that market prices are on the uptrend anew, will shield our consumers from unconscionably high prices,” Speaker Romualdez said.
“But extreme care should be taken to ensure that in the imposition of the SRP, the interest of stakeholders such as the consumers, the traders, the market vendors, and especially our onion farmers are suitably protected,” he added.
Still, Speaker Romualdez believes the imposition of the SRP alone would not address the recurring problem of wild price fluctuations of onion.
“As the hearings of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food have indicated, dismantling the onion cartel is a key element in ensuring the stable price of this commodity. Unless we destroy this cartel, this problem will haunt us again and again in the future,” he stressed.
Earlier, Speaker Romualdez urged authorities like the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine Competition Commission, and the DA to work together and pursue the leads obtained in the congressional hearings to build an airtight case against the onion cartel.
“Putting members of this cartel behind bars will send the unmistakable message that the government will not tolerate any unfair trade practices that prey on the hapless consumer and farmers,” Speaker Romualdez said.
At the same time, Speaker Romualdez called for appropriate government assistance and incentives for farmers—particularly those growing onions—to encourage additional production and ensure ample supply.
“The DA should provide necessary aid to our farmers, such as fertilizers, and build more cold storage facilities to encourage increased production. If we can produce enough, cartels will find it difficult to control the supply and manipulate prices,” he said.
“The House of Representatives will be open to proposals from the DA geared towards achieving our food security goals,” Speaker Romualdez added.
It could be recalled that when prices of onion surged to over P700 a kilo in December last year Speaker Romualdez called for a congressional investigation in aid of legislation to address the issue and protect the consumers. (ai/mtvn)