Press Release
July 9, 2023

Bong Go commends PBBM for action versus onion cartel and smuggling; calls for protection for poor consumers

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go expressed his support for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s directive for the conduct of a thorough investigation into the alleged onion cartel as well as the smuggling and hoarding of agricultural products.

"I commend President Marcos for his decisive action to address the issue of hoarding, smuggling, and price fixing of agricultural commodities, " Go said in reference to the President's directive to the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation to launch a thorough investigation.

Go stressed the importance of protecting the interests of local farmers and consumers and said "these unlawful practices have severe consequences for our farmers and the general public, particularly the poor."

He said there is a need to put an end to the manipulative tactics employed by the onion cartel, which led to a significant surge in onion prices and negatively affected the consumers' purchasing power and the livelihood of farmers.

"It is crucial to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Our farmers work hard to provide for our nation, and they should not be exploited by unscrupulous individuals seeking to profit at their expense. We must ensure that justice is served," he said.

"Napakaimportante ng food security. Huwag natin hayaang may nangsasamantala lalo na sa sektor ng agrikultura kung saan nakasalalay ang ikabubuhay ng marami nating kababayan. Importante na may laman ang tiyan ng mga tao lalo na mga mahihirap," he added.

Go stressed the need for collaboration among different government agencies and enforcement bodies to ensure a comprehensive and efficient inquiry. He said there is a need for coordination and pooling of resources to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice.

"Cooperation among relevant agencies is essential in dismantling the cartel and curbing smuggling activities effectively," Go said.

"We must work together to protect our farmers, stabilize prices, and safeguard the welfare of our consumers," he added.

Previously, Go stressed the importance of apprehending and prosecuting those involved in smuggling activities that allow them to sell onions at higher prices. Invoking the Anti-Smuggling Law, he cited the need to impose stricter penalties, including imprisonment, on offenders who exploit the market and violate the established price ceiling.

Citing the crucial role of farmers in ensuring food security, Go has been consistently pushing for stronger agricultural support systems and infrastructure.

He was one of the authors of the measure that became Republic Act No. 11901, expanding the agriculture, fisheries, and rural development financing system. He has also been advocating for other programs to support farmers and fisherfolks in the country, such as the enhancement of the irrigation of farmlands and expansion of the National Rice Program.

Go also co-authored Senate Bill No. 1804 or the New Agrarian Emancipation Act which was already approved by the Senate. The measure seeks to condone loans that agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) incurred in owning lands under the government's agrarian reform programs.

Moreover, the senator also filed SBN 2117 which aims to provide full crop insurance coverage for agrarian reform beneficiaries, as well as SBN 2118 which aims to provide better insurance coverage and services to farmers and help mitigate the impact of natural disasters on the agricultural sector, if enacted into law.

Earlier, Go also emphasized the importance of improving competitiveness and safeguarding local farmers and industries amid the recently ratified Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement. Go believes that with open competition as a result of RCEP, the prices of goods should decrease, and ordinary Filipinos, especially the poor and those in the agricultural sector, must benefit from it.

Go likewise backed proposals to convert idle government lands into agricultural areas to boost food production in the country.

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