'Sibuyas Queen' is lying, says Nueva Ecija solon

'I think you're really lying."

Lilia Cruz ( HREP website)

Nueva Ecija 3rd district Rep. Ria Vergara had this to say to alleged "Sibuyas Queen" Lilia Cruz during the continuation of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food's public inquiry on agricultural hoarding.

Cruz, a self-described agri-preneur, was a resource person in the panel hearing Tuesday, Feb. 14. She was physically present at the House of Representatives.

Vergara, chairperson of the House Committee on Social Services, participated in the hearing via Zoom.

During the hearing, Cruz and another resource person, Jojo Celestino, denied personally knowing each other, something that the congresswoman said she didn't believe. In the past, Celestino allegeldy served as Cruz's agent for buying garlic.

Vergara claimed that she was familiar with Cruz since the latter had bought garlic before in her native of Nueva Ecija.

To prove her contention, Vergara sought from the panel the minutes of a Senate inquiry back in 2015 tackling the shortage of garlic wherein Cruz was also implicated.

"I’m sorry to say, I think you’re really lying...Mr. Chair I’m sure the Senate records will show that they know each other," Vergara said, referring to the agri-preneur.

“Kaya ito ngayon ay pinakikinggan natin yung sa onions dahil ayaw natin mangyari yung nangyari sa garlic sa ating onion industry. Like I said before, kataka-taka na pag may price spike yung pangalan niyo ay parating kasama (The reason why we're having an inquiry on onions is because we don't want a repeat of the garlic issue in the onion industry. Like I said before, it's astonishing that your name is always mentioned when there's a price spike )," she said.

Shortly after saying this, the agriculture and food panel went into an executive session, which was closed to the media.

The executive session was arranged in order to allow Bonena Multipurpose Cooperative Chairman Israel Reguyal to explain in detail the "modus" wherein the Department of Agriculture (DA) arbitrary issues import permits for onions. The activity allegedly involves Cruz, who purchases onions from local farmers in bulk.

Cruz also participated in the executive session. But a disappointed Vergara said afterward that Cruz didn't give any helpful information and instead played the "victim card" during the three-hour closed-door session.

It's common knowledge that the importation of agricultural produce hurts local farmers.