House sends stronger summons to 'Sibuyas Queen' after 2nd no-show

So-called "Sibuyas Queen" Lilia Cruz, alias Leah Cruz has once again no-showed a hearing of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, forcing congressmen to send her stronger summons for her presence.

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

Committee Chairman Quezon 1st district Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga ordered the issuance of subpoenas against Cruz, and her fellow resource person Ernesto Francisco during the continuation of the panel's inquiry on the agricultural hoarding issue on Tuesday, March 7.

Enverga, in his opening speech, informed his colleagues in the panel that Cruz had to appear before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft Tuesday morning to hear her case. Francisco of YOM Trading offered the same excuse for his absence.

"Mr. Ernesto Francisco sent a letter informing the committee of his hearing before the Sandiganbayan today; Ms. Leah Cruz also sent a letter informing us of the same hearing before the Sandiganbayan where she will personally appear," the Quezon solon said.

Cruz, a self-described agri-preneur who is implicated in the spike of onion (sibuyas) prices during the previous quarter, has now skipped two hearings in a row. For his part, Enverga found both Cruz and Francisco's excuse "valid".

But this didn't stop Marikina City 2nd district Rep. Stella Quimbo from moving to ensure that the two personalities would appear in the panel's next hearing.

"Mr. Chair, to ensure the presence of Leah Cruz as well as Ernesto Francisco in the next hearing, I move that we issue a subpoena," Quimbo said.

This was seconded by Cavite 4th district Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., who had planned to confront the businesswoman regarding he previous absence.

"I second the motion....may I also add that aside from the subpoena ad testificandum, we also require that they submit their subpoena duces tecum in order to present all the necessary documents in connection with the importation of onions as reflected on the records of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI)," he said.

Barzaga further aaid: "May I respectfully move that  if in the next scheduled hearing, Leah and Mr...Francisco would not be again able to attend...they must be cited in contempt, considering that we need their presence. I so move."

The panel chairman quickly carried the motion.

A resource person cited in contempt by a House committee may be ordered detained, up until such time that the solons think that he or she is cooperating with their investigation.

A subpoena ad testificandum is a writ ordering a person to attend a court, or in this case, the Enverga panel. On the other hand, a subpoena duces tecum is a writ ordering a person to attend a court and bring relevant documents.