MANILA - President Aquino wants the government to sell confiscated smuggled garlic to curb price increases.
The chief executive issued the statement after he met with food security and agriculture officials last week.
Aquino said the deployment of rolling stores to sell cheap garlic has not been successful.
"May mga rolling stores na pinalakad ang both DA (Department of Agriculture) at saka DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and specifically on the items that were subject to the price increases," he said.
"Medyo substantial iyung (unload) on the market pero hindi daw ganun ka-substantial iyong effect sa price. So towards that end, iyong one of the things that I had tasked the DA and DTI and Customs actually to do is iyong phytosanitary testing for the garlic that has been confiscated by Customs. And I did instruct them that if it has passed and in conformity with the laws, we will unload all of this confiscated garlic to again ease the pressure on prices."
Aquino maintained that supplies are enough but there is price manipulation.
"Ang sinabi lang sa atin, iyong if you go to any market, there is not a question of --- iyong supply. The supply is abundant but the price keeps on getting jacked up. So iyon ang isyu, is somebody manipulating the prices rather than iyong law of supply and demand taking such an action," he said.
He said the government is still keeping watch over the situation. "Now, towards that end, okay, there is increased monitoring activities by the DTI and enforcement --- or the pertinent rules and laws as far as the retail market is concerned implementing strictly the suggested retail pricing on manufactured and processed goods."
The chief executive renewed his warning that those found to be violating laws will be prosecuted.
"Those who will be found to violate the Price Act and iyong others, iyong pagbebenta ng bigas ng walang kaukulang awtorisasyon, they will be subjected to very hefty fines and criminal cases will also be filed," Aquino said.
He said many have been arrested. "I understand marami-rami na ring mga nademanda at nahuli. I'm sorry, I don't have the figures right here with me, pero marami-rami na ring sinita at pinanagot doon sa mga maling pagkilos nila."
Aquino added, however, that there may be other factors for price increases.
"Iyung world prices, you know there is a problem in Iraq. Iraq produces...I think, is next to Saudi Arabia in terms of oil production. There are already pieces in the media saying that if the situation in Iraq becomes worse, one can project that the prices of oil will also necessarily increase. So that will also be a factor in terms of moving, for instance, today iyong milk at saka bread. So we import the flour, we import the milk. Iyong milk yata I think we import our dairy products something to the tune of 99 percent but we will be taking steps to minimize the impact of such."