House detains 2 tagged in onion 'price manipulation'

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 14 2023 05:16 PM

MANILA -- House Committee on Agriculture and Food chairperson Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga confirmed Tuesday the surrender of 2 individuals his panel cited in contempt last week.

In a statement, Enverga said that ARGO Trading president and general manager Efren Zoleta Jr. and legal counsel Jan Ryan Cruz voluntarily presented themselves to Sergeant-at-Arms Napoleon Taas around 1:30 p.m. Monday and will be held in detention for 10 days.

The 2 were responding to the contempt order which was decided during the last committee hearing on reported price manipulation of onion.

Already in detention is ARGO Trading operation manager John Patrick Sevilla, who has been held for safekeeping at the House of Representatives detention center since March 7.

The Committee on Agriculture voted to cite the three in contempt and ordered them detained for 10 days for refusal to cooperate and turn over documents crucial in the investigation.

"I take this opportunity to reiterate the warning of our Speaker: we will not hesitate to use the full powers of the House of Representatives to ferret out who were behind the price manipulation of onion and other agricultural products," Enverga said in the statement.

A cartel is allegedly behind the spike in the prices of onion in the past months, according to some farmers' groups and legislators.