MANILA - The Department of Agriculture said Wednesday it blacklisted 43 garlic importers for allegedly contributing to the increase in prices.
The traders were granted permits to import 70,100 metric tons of garlic this year but they only brought 19,252 metric tons into the country, said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.
Piñol blamed the difference between actual and programmed imports for the high cost of garlic.
Traders earlier said they deferred the importation of garlic as it remains expensive in the international market, especially China.
"Kung talagang seryoso kang importer at alam mo ang responsibilidad mo -- hindi ka fair-weather friend," Piñol said.
"Dapat consistent ka manipis man ang tubo mo o makapal man ang tubo mo, dahil alam mo na importation is vital to stabilizing the supply of the commodity in the market and ensure that the price stabilizes, may responsibilidad ka."
(If you really are a serious importer and you understand your responsibility, you won't be a fair weather friend. You should be consistent whether the harvest is abundant or not because you know that importation is vital to stabilizing the supply of the commodity in the market and ensuring that the price stabilizes.)
Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate agriculture and food committee, claimed businessmen intentionally reduced garlic importation to justify price hikes.
The DA is set to review the permits of 111 other importers, said Piñol. -- With reports from Jeff Herneaz and Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News