'Huwag naman kaming lokohin dito': Another 2 cited in contempt in 'hoarding' probe

At a glance

  • George Ong (In photo, center), and Michael Ang (right)--officials of Super 5 cold storage facility--get cited for contempt in the House of Representatives' probe on agricultural hoarding.

  • (Photo screenshot from Zoom)

Showing once again that it means business, the House Committee on Agriculture and Food cited in contempt on Tuesday night, March 21 another two resource persons in the panel's ongoing investigation on agricultural hoarding-slash-price manipulation.

Cited in contempt and ordered detained for 10 days in the House of Representatives by panel chairman Quezon 1st district Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga were Michael Ang and George Ong.

They are the director and general manager, respectively, of Super 5, one of the biggest cold storage facilities in the Philippines. The motion to cite in contempt was made by Quezon 2nd district Rep. David "Jay-jay" Suarez.

A total of 20 panel members voted in favor of the motion. Enverga said the rules only required a two-thirds vote, or in this case, 13 votes.

"To all the other resource persons--huwag naman kaming lokohin dito (don't fool us here)...Kaya kanina na-cite sila (The reason why they were cited) was because of their--practically their non-cooperation," Enverga said after the grueling nine-hour hearing.

"I would take that as, an, in a way, trying to obstruct [the] deliberations of the hearing...it seems that there's pattern, it seems that they were really asking for it," he added.

Ang and Ong apparently lied about their business portfolio.

“Unfortunately our guests from Super 5 cold storage remain to be evasive. So Mr. Chair I move to cite in contempt Mr. Michael Ang and Mr. George Ong,” Suarez said.

The solon said that the duo categorically denied that they were involved in trading during the interpellation of Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo, only to admit later that they were actually engaged in trading.

The legal counsel of the Super 5 cold storage facility tried but failed to persuade the panel to reconsider the motion, noting that his client appeared before the panel to cooperate in the investigation.

But Cavite 4th district Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said that attending the committee hearing does not mean that a resource person cannot be cited in contempt.

Ang and Ong were cited in contempt during the last 15 minutes of Tuesday's hearing.

The panel had previously cited in contempt Argo President and General Manager Efren Zoleta Jr., Operation Manager John Patrick Sevilla, and lawyer Ryan Jan Cruz in the hearing. Argo is also a cold storage facility.

Based on past hearings, cold storage facilities could be involved in the cartel that caused onion prices to spike during the latter half of 2022.