'Nadismaya ako': Enverga assesses day 1 of House 'hoarding' probe

The Quezon 1st district Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga-led Committee on Agriculture and Food in the House of Representatives began on Wednesday, Feb. 8 an inquiry on the alleged hoarding of agricultural goods such as onion and garlic.

Quezon 1st district Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga (Screenshot from Zoom)

So, what better way to get an assessment of the probe than asking the committee chairman himself?

To put it simply, Enverga wasn't thrilled about the outcome.

"Well, medyo disappointing dahil nga yung data gaps between BPI (Bureau of Plant Industry), PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority). Medyo nalilito kami dito sa mga bagong rebelasyon namin dito. Even yung data nila particular dun sa mga cold storages (it's a bit disappointing because of the data gaps between the BPI, PSA. We're a bit confused by the new revelations. Even on the data on cold storages in particular)," Enverga told reporters directly following the three-hour hearing.

That the BPI, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture (DA), couldn't seem to give solons the onion supply figures that they need is a huge red flag, according to the panel chairman.

"Again, nadismaya ako dun sa pagkakataon na madiskubre na yung traders ay hindi alam ng BPI so malaking butas, ito particular for yung mga mapagsamantalang tao. Since hindi alam kung asan yung particular supply sa particular moment eh malaking problema natin dito (I was dismayed when we discovered that the BPI didn't know who the onion traders were, so that's a huge gap that unscrupulous people could exploit. Since they don't know what the particular supply is at a particular moment, that's a huge problem for us)," Enverga said.

He further said: "So medyo overwhelming na disappointing but we hope sa Tuesday (Feb. 14) ready naman yung mga agency na ni-require natin na pumunta dito (it's a bit overwhelmingly disappointing but we hope on Tuesday that the agencies would be ready to come here).

"So we hope that they would be able to answer yung mga (our many) queries naman for us to establish talaga kung ano nangyari nung panahon na tumaas ang sibuyas (what really happened during the time when onion prices spiked)."

But if there's any revelation that Enverga can share about Wednesday's hearing, it's that "There's a huge possibility that price manipulation and hoarding exists."

The House panel's next hearing on the hoarding issue will take place on Feb. 14. Enverga said the probe could take four to five sessions to finish.