Ombudsman plans to probe agriculture officials over soaring onion prices

The Office of the Ombudsman confirmed that it was planning to investigate officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in relation to the rising prices of onions, which have reached as high as PHP700 (US$14.59) a kilo in the market.

The Ombudsman will investigate the DA and the Food Terminal Incorporated’s (FTI) procurement of onions worth PH537 (US$9.80) per kilo from the Bonena Multipurpose Cooperative.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires said he wanted to look into the involvement of traders in potential price manipulation of onions in the market, and will send notices to DA and FTI officials.

Officials will be asked to explain why the onions were procured at such a price when the same onions are sold at government-run Kadiwa stores for PHP170 (US$3.10) a kilo.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is the current secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

In Congress, Makabayan bloc representatives Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro, and Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raoul Manuel filed a resolution to investigate the potential price manipulation and overpricing of onions.

“There are reasons to believe that there is an ongoing control and manipulation of onion prices from farmgate to market retail by big traders who store onions in cold storage warehouses,” House Resolution No. 673 read.

The lawmakers pointed out that the price of onions has surpassed the highest daily minimum wage in the country at PHP570 (US$10.40).

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture said it was planning to import some 22,000 metric tons of onions to help lower onion prices in the market.

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