Senate probes high onion prices

Andreah Dianne M. Cartagena

Senator Cynthia Villar presided over the senate agriculture committee to investigate the high price of onions over the past month, reaching up to P800 per kilo.

Photo Courtesy of Inquirer News & Senate of the Philippines

The Senate agriculture committee is currently looking into the recent staggering prices of onions in the country, which have already reached up to P800 per kilo in some areas.

In the Senate probe presided by Sen. Cynthia Villar, onions are revealed to be bought from farmers at P6 to P15, ruining their investment, and are sold in Metro Manila from P500 to P700. This financial ruin brought by low selling prices has now reportedly led to the suicide of some onion farmers in Pangasinan.

Romel Calingasan, municipal agriculturist in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, also slammed the Department of Agriculture for allowing importation despite ongoing local harvests.

Aside from importation, the probe revealed that smugglers and cartels, price manipulation, and inflation all contributed to the increasing prices.

Furthermore, Villar questioned Food Terminal Inc. (FTI) for selling onions at more than P500 per kilo despite prices dropping to P250 per kilo as set by the Department of Trade and Industry last December.

FTI President Robert Tan said that the meeting in December did not include the onion prices and only discussed how to stabilize prices and the P140 million fund to be provided.

However, Tan said that he was on leave at that time which provoked the senator’s anger.

“Dyosko naman, lumang story na ‘yun, Dyosko. Hindi naman kami ganun kabobo. Accept the responsibility that you bought P500 when there are available na P200 something.” the senator said.

Sen. Nancy Binay noted that the “bottom line” of the recurring problem of agricultural products’ prices is the lack of plan in the sector. Meanwhile, Sen. Robinhood Padilla also pushed to invite alleged smugglers to the next hearing. 

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