House Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairman and Quezon 1st district Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga says former Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary William Dar has "a lot of explaining to do" when it comes to the onion price surge.
Dar was the DA head honcho from 2019 to 2022. This makes him President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s immediate predecessor in the department.
Ex-DA chief William Dar has 'a lot of explaining to do' on Leah Cruz, onion price surge
At a glance
Former Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary William Dar, the agriculture chief during the latter half of the previous Duterte administration, has "a lot of explaining to do" in connection with the onion price surge issue.
Thus, said House Committee on Agriculture and Food Chairman and Quezon 1st district Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga on Thursday, May 18.
According to Enverga, so-called "Sibuyas Queen" Leah Cruz was able to have her way in the onion industry even before current administration of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. Marcos is the concurrent DA chief.
Cruz has been the focal person in the past nine hearings of the Enverga panel wherein wherein it uncovered an alleged cartel that caused onion prices to reach over P700 a kilo late last year.
“Based on the diagram presented by [Marikina City 2nd district] Cong. Stella Quimbo, former Sec. Dar has a lot of explaining to do,” Enverga said in an interview.
“Katulad ng sinabi rin ni Cong. Stella for a cartel to fly, kinakailangan may kasama rin sa gobyerno, hindi mangyayari ang cartel o hindi magiging successful iyung operations kung walang kasabwat (there must be an accomplice in government, a cartel won't have successful operations if it has no accomplice),” Enverga said during a press conference with Quimbo the same day.
Dar was the DA head honcho from 2019 to 2022. This makes him Marcos' immediate predecessor in the department.
Quimbo said that Cruz's extended group companies accounted for a whopping 68..74 percent of the total imported volume for yellow granex or white onions in 2022. This amounted to 5,445.66 metric tons (MT).
For red onions, the importers controlled by Cruz hauled an even bigger 7,648 MT, or 41 percent of the total imported volume last year.
"Klaro na patuloy siyang nag import ng sibuyas despite all her denials. Nagsinungaling siya sa atin sa Kongreso bagamat siya ay under oath," Quimbo said in a press conference of Cruz, also known as Lilia Cruz.
"Ang katanungan, paano napayagan ng Bureau of Plants Industry (BPI) na patuloy na makapag-import si Leah Cruz despite being blacklisted. May nagbubulag-bulagan ba o lantarang nakikipag-sabwatan ang BPI sa pandaraya sa taumbayan? (The question is, how was BPI able to allow Leah Cruz's continued importations despite being blacklisted. Is the BPI playing blind or is it an accomplice in cheating our countrymen?)" she asked.
The BPI is an attached agency of the DA and is in charge with monitoring the state of onion supply in the country. The hearings have shown that the BPI was remiss in preventing the
onion price surge due to failed interventions.
Enverga also believes that the evidence against Cruz is strong than ever, thanks to the hearings.
"I think this time, mas malakas po siguro naman yung ebidensya dito na nagli-link nanaman sa kanila dito (the evidence linking them to the onion issue is stronger)."
He noted that Cruz is currently facing charges in the Sandiganbayan and also in the regional trial court (RTC) of Manila over the alleged hoarding, profiteering, price manipulation, and cartel of garlic.