Militant groups protest spike in prices of garlic, rice

by Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2014 01:14 PM | Updated as of Jun 23 2014 09:14 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Using pots and pans, members of Gabriela Women's Partylist created a noise in front of Department of Agriculture's office on Monday morning.

They want Agriculture Secretary Alcala to explain the spike in the prices of rice and garlic.

Party-list solons filed a resolution to probe high commodity prices, as well as determine if there was market manipulation involved in the "sharp and unreasonable" price increases.

However, the DA has remained mum on the results of its investigation on why garlic prices spiked.

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the results of the investigation will be revealed by Senator Cynthia Villar at the Senate.

Recommendations made by the National Garlic Action Team will still be discussed.

The DA is studying the issuance of a permit to neutralize garlic importation. They are still finalizing the guidelines of imports.

Farmers are selling their produce to traders, who are also importing garlic. This puts supplies in the hands of traders, and consumers are at the mercy of the traders who control the prices.

Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (AMAS) director Leandro Gazmin admitted the DA's rolling stores project is only a short term solution and has little effect on the garlic price.

Rolling stores have given consumers the option of cheaper garlic but the price of imported garlic remains the same.

Certain markets are already selling garlic at P30 lower than last week's prices.

The DA said it is open to suggestions of putting suggested retail price on garlic, but there are concerns it may encourage traders to hoard and raise prices.

Several DA officials are on their way to Ilocos Norte to open a garlic hangar. This will enable the farmers to produce high quality garlic.