FOLLOWING THE MARCHING ORDER of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to investigate the smuggling of onions and other agricultural products, the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday, July 4, announced the creation of Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Task Force, which will include the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The question is: Can it bite?

We gathered that the members of this Task Force will be The Office of the Prosecutor General, headed by Chief State Prosecutor Richard Fadullon, and the National Bureau of Investigation, headed by Director Medardo De Lemos.

I wonder who will represent the BOC that has transformed its Manila gates like a garrison that nobody can enter the Customs premises and offices without having an appointment with any concerned official.

A “martial law” practice that was initiated by former President Digong Duterte’s appointee Rey Leonardo “Jagger” Borja Guerrero, a retired general of the Philippine Army who had served as BOC Commissioner under the previous administration.

This time, however, PBBM – who is also DA Secretary in the meantime — seems to be getting tougher in eradicating agricultural smuggling which is tantamount to economic sabotage.

“And that is why we are going to be very, very strict about finding these people and making sure that they are brought to justice,” the President said, apparently referring to the agricultural smugglers who seem to have “friends” from the inside of BOC.

The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) headed by lawyer Cheloy Garafil bared that Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo said in a Memorandum to the President that there was substantial evidence pointing to the existence of an onion cartel that could be behind the surge in onion prices in 2022.

Quimbo claimed that the onion cartel, which operates through a group of companies, was engaged in various activities in the supply chain such as farming, importation, local trading, warehousing, and logistics.

“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,” PBBM said in a video message.

The DOJ said it was diligently conducting its case build-up against individuals and organizations involved in onion smuggling.

We can only cross our fingers that this probe will not only be “drawing lang.”

Huwag ganun uy.