Press Release
October 29, 2013


SENATOR Cynthia Villar will look into the sentiments and complaints of farmers from Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur on the huge importation of garlic that have adversely affected their production and earnings from the industry.

In a public hearing at the Mariano Marcos State University in Caunayan, Batac City, Ilocos Norte, Villar intends to establish the actual practices and policies on the importation of garlic flooding the local market. Villar wants to know the problems and the root causes of problems hounding the onion industry in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur to come up with the best possible solutions to resolve these problems. "Idinadaing ninyo na lubhang apektado kayo ng mas mababang presyo ng imported na bawang. Dahil dito, nagtatanim na lamang kayo ng ibang commodity sa halip na bawang," said Villar, chair of the Senate on agriculture and food.

Based on the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT), the current garlic inventory shows the price of locally-grown garlic is pegged at P60-80 per kilo while imported garlic costs P50-60 per kilo.

NGAT is composed of various stakeholders both from private and government sectors--the traders, exporters, importers, farmers' associations and cooperatives and representatives from the Bureau of Customs.

Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala will attend the hearing together with DA National Rice Program Coordinator Undersecretary Dante Delima, DA High Value Crops Development Program Director Jennifer Remoquillo, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) Director Clarito Barron, and representatives from the Bureau of Customs (BoC), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and farmers cooperatives and associations, both from Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.

The provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur are the country's biggest producers of garlic, aside from the red shallot onions.

The public hearing will be conducted in consonance with Senate Resolution No. 238 filed by Villar and Senate Resolution No. 262 filed by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Villar's resolution calls for a senate inquiry on the present practices and policies on the importation of garlic and onions amid claims on the monopolization in the distribution of these products.

In her resolution, Villar said the lack of new import permits being issued by the DA limits the number of onion and garlic distributors to a select group in the country allowing them to impose higher prices on these products.

She said a case has been filed with a Manila Regional Trial Court against the DA, BPI and the Quarantine Services to compel the said agencies to issue importation permits.

She noted it is the consuming public who will be greatly prejudiced by the increased prices in onion and garlic.

On the otherhand, Santaigo seeks a senate inquiry on the anomalous importation and dealings with the Bureau of Plant Industry, allegedly allowing the monopoly of garlic importation in the country.

Villar had conducted a similar public hearing in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija last September 26, 2013.

In the said public hearing, Villar related they reached a consensus that if garlic importation cannot be avoided, 60% of it should be allocated to farmers' cooperatives and associations and 40% to private traders and importers.

In case the need for importation of garlic is just low, Villar said the selection process should be done through a raffle.

"Ang pagbibigay ay hindi base kung sino lang ang gustong bigyan ng import permit ng Bureau of Plant Industry," she pointed out. In the said hearing, she said the BPI and the DA High Value Crops Development Program presented polices on the imporation of garlic and onion and programs for the development of the said industry.

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