The Ombudsman is holding them accountable for their role in the alleged creation of a cartel of garlic during the Aquino administration
MANILA, Philippines – Sandiganbayan accused the former Agriculture Secretary, Proceso Alacala, other government officials, and garlic traders for their role in allegedly creating a cartel of garlic during the previous administration.
Sandiganbayan said that Alcala, Clarito Barron, director of the Factories Office, and private traders were found to be violating Section 3 (e) of Law 3019 of the Republic or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. (READ: Chief Agri is the highest paid cabinet clerk)
Also charged were the former heads of the National Quarantine Services Division, Merle Palacpac and Luben Marasigan, who participated in the import process.
This follows a resolution of April 20, 2018, in which a panel of investigators likely brought criminal charges against Alcala and others interviewed for allegedly attempting to control the garlic supply in the months of January to July 2014. (READ: The ombudsman investigates Alcala for cartel fraud of garlic)
It was only on March 12, when ombudsman Samuel Martires allowed the prosecution. Days later, on March 15, the corruption investigation and prosecution Bonifacio Mandrilla filed charges against those interviewees.
Some private traders named by Sandiganbayan were:
- Lilia "Lea" Cruz
- Edmond Caguinguin
- Rolan Galvez
- Rochelle Diaz
- Ma Jackilou Ilagan
- Jon Dino De Vera
- Napoleon Baldueza
- Jose Ollegue
- Laila Matabang
- Angelita Flores
- Gaudioso Diato
- Denia Matabang
- José Angulo Jr.
- Raffy Torres
- Mary Grace Sebastian
- Renato Francisco Jr.
- Rolando Manangan
- Orestes Hall
- Prudencio Wheels
- Shiela Mary Dela Cruz
These respondents received bail of P30,000 each.
Martires said the collusion began in 2010 when Alcala formed the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT) to approve resolutions. The team consisted of individuals from the government and the private sector.
Alcala endorsed these resolutions for Barron, who then issued import licenses (IP), following the recommendation of the two former quarantine officials.
However, the researchers found that NGAT was very influential and affected the importation of garlic. Lilia Cruz, who had been appointed chair of the NGAT, used her position to have her groups take control of the supply, as well as the price.
"From November 2013 to March 2014 … there were a total of 8,810 IP grant applications," said Martires.
Of these applications, 5,022 IPS were from companies or companies affiliated with Cruz, added the Ombudsman.
Cruz held the following positions:
- Association of importers, exporters and suppliers of vegetables of the president and owner of Philippines Inc (VIEVA)
- Director of Philippine VIEVA Group of Companies Inc. (PhilVIEVA)
- Cooperative Stockholder Multitask Magtutumana ng Sta Rosa
- Manager of Shielamarie Enterprises
Private traders were also found to hold leadership positions in the following interconnected trading companies:
- Tumana Trading
- R.M. Galvez Agri Trading
- Purple Moon Trading
- Bee Jee Trading
- Difficult Negotiation
- A.G.R. Negotiation
- The Queen Food Trading
- Yom Trading Corporation
- Did you like this trip? New Ecija
- Kooperatiba ng Bayang Sagana
- Cooperativa Multipurpose Mindoro Allium Growers
- Shilamarie Enterprises.
The investigation panel found that, during the supposed period when the cartel was active, imported garlic prices rose from a range of P165 to P170 to P260 to P400 per kilo.
Native garlic prices, on the other hand, also increased to a range of P250 to P450 from April to June 2014. – Rappler.com