Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

No deadline for agri smuggling probe, says Marcos

Bea Cupin

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No deadline for agri smuggling probe, says Marcos
The President says he doesn't want a 'rushed' investigation over a year after onion prices surged

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. isn’t in a rush for the justice department to wrap up its probe into the alleged onion cartel, and the smuggling and hoarding of agricultural products.

Unang-una, hindi ako mahilig magbigay ng deadline. Siyempre gusto ko tapusin nila kaagad pero kailangan tapos, hindi hilaw (I’m not fond of imposing deadlines. Of course we want them to finish right away but it shouldn’t be rushed),” said Marcos in a chance interview on the sidelines of a livestock and aquaculture event in Pasay City on Wednesday, July 5.

The day prior, Marcos announced in a statement that he had ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe a group of companies allegedly involved in “hoarding, smuggling (and) price fixing of agricultural commodities.”

Marcos is both chief executive and agriculture secretary, a position he had held in a concurrent capacity for over a year now.

The President, apparently prompted by a memorandum from Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo, who in turn cited the House investigation into the surge in onion prices and other agriculture products.

At sa aking pananaw at sa palagay ko ‘yung mga abogado natin ay sasang-ayon naman siguro sa akin – ang sa aking pananaw, ‘yung kanilang ginagawa amounts to economic sabotage. Kaya’t ‘yun ang aming – ‘yun ang aming direksyon dito sa pag-imbestiga na ito,” said Marcos.

(In my view, and I think our lawyers will agree, that what they’re doing amounts to economic sabotage. That’s the direction of our investigation.)

Onion prices surged to P700 per kilogram in 2022 – prompting different probes, including inquiries at the House and the Senate. The House concluded its probe in May, while the Senate submitted a committee report in February. 

Hours after the Palace’s announcement, the DOJ said it would create an Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Task Force. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.