Risa urges 'restraint' on onion importation, says move 'came in too late'

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 11 2023 05:33 PM

MANILA — Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) to reconsider its plan of importing almost 22,000 metric tons of onions while noting that the move "came in too late."

"It's best to wait and see. Malapit na ang anihan ng ating mga magsasaka. Kung maganda ang ani, baka hindi naman kailangan na 22,000 metric tons ang sibuyas na aangkatin. Baka naman pwedeng kalahati lamang ng authorized amount ang dapat ma-import... Pwede namang hindi itodo," Hontiveros said. 

Aside from Hontiveros, a group of farmers is also opposing the government’s move to import 21,060 metric tons of onions, saying it might hurt local farmers.

Sen. Imee Marcos, sister of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., likewise asked the DA to "study carefully" the timing of the planned importation.

Hontiveros believes the authorization to import came in too late, more than two months after most families' "Noche Buena" food planning.

"The importation is obviously being done belatedly. The imports should have been authorized two months ago in time for the holidays. This error is unforgivable," she pointed out.

She encouraged the DA to improve their data collection on onions so that officials do not make "rash decisions based on feelings alone."

"Limitado ang datos ng DA ukol sa lawak at laki ng ani mula sa mga taniman ng sibuyas. Kaya hindi malayong mabago pa ang 22,000 metric tons na iniutos ni Presidente. Huwag muna tayong magpadala sa 'ramdam sampling'. Maghunos dili muna," she said.

A House lawmaker has filed House Resolution 681 seeking a congressional inquiry into the alleged anti-competitive practices and cartel in the onion industry.


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