Speaker: Jail for non-cooperation in House onion probe

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Speaker: Jail for non-cooperation in House onion probe
A market vendor shows the size comparison of the onion bought from local farmers and a giant onion that came from an undisclosed origin at the Marikina City Public Market on January 23, 2023.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Martin Romualdez yesterday warned resource persons refusing to cooperate or lying in the House of Representatives’ inquiry on onion shortage that they could end up in detention.

“I cannot stress enough for these resource persons the importance of cooperating with the committee: lie to lawmakers and you will all find yourselves in jail,” Romualdez said, as he issued a directive to the House committee on agriculture to leave no stone unturned in its investigation.

“We need to lower the prices of onions and decimate the cartel the soonest possible time,” he added, as he gave the marching orders to Quezon 1st District Rep. Mark Enverga, who chairs the committee, to let the chips fall where they may so that the cartel will be dismantled.

The Speaker reiterated that he guarantees the imprisonment of exploitative and abusive individuals and business owners behind the cartel.

“Our constituents need an immediate reprieve from the high prices of agricultural goods,” he said.

He also hinted that the Enverga panel is now “bent on unmasking onion cartel bosses.”

“Tell the truth or go straight to jail,” Romualdez, who sits as president of the 70-member Lakas-CMD, warned.

The committee is set to resume tomorrow its probe on the alleged hoarding of agricultural products in the market.

“The (Enverga) committee will not spare anyone who helped these unscrupulous individuals, even those from the government. You are equally guilty of causing the suffering of the Filipino people,” Romualdez said.

He added that he expects the cooperation of Argo president and general manager Efren Zoleta Jr., Argo operations manager John Patrick Sevilla and their legal counsel Jan Ryan Cruz in identifying the hoarders.

“Let your detention by the committee be a lesson: if you will not tell us the truth, we will send you to jail,” Romualdez said.

Members of the panel have been working to unmask the unscrupulous financiers and traders behind the onion and vegetable cartel in its hearings.

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