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Philippines: Ag dept to suspend 55 garlic importers

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has said he will order a temporary ban on the 55 garlic importers who were named by the Department of Justice (DOJ) as having links to the garlic cartel operating in the country.

At a hearing, Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, questioned officials of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) why these garlic importers continued to be on their list of accredited importers when a DOJ report in 2014 had identified them as cartel operators.

The report was released following a Senate investigation on garlic cartels in 2014 after prices more than doubled to P300 despite the absence of a shortage in the market.

The report by the DOJ-Office for Competition (OFC) also described the modus operandi of the cartel, which it said controlled 75 percent of the country’s garlic supply.

It listed 55 affiliated garlic importers supposedly controlled by four players, one of which was alleged onion and garlic cartel leader, Leah Cruz.

The report identified 24 importers affiliated to Cruz, of which five continued to receive import permits in the last three years, said Villar. These importers were Philippine Vieva Group of Companies, Bee Jee Trading, Vieva, Purple Moon Trading and RM Galvez.

Assistant Justice Secretary George Ortha II yesterday told the committee that the DOJ-OFC had forwarded the 2014 fact-finding report to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for further investigation.

Source: newsinfo.inquirer.net

Publication date: 8/8/2017


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