Gov’t officials, importers face criminal raps on garlic racket

Gov’t officials, importers face criminal raps on garlic racket.

2014_0629_proceso alcala
A whistle-blower implicated Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala in the racket. Garlic importer Lilybeth Valenzuela, in a sworn statement said former BPI Director Clarito Barron had told importers that they must have Alcala’s blessings so they could be issued the import permits.

MANILA, Jan. 8 — Some 100 individuals, which include Aquino government officials and garlic importers, are facing criminal charges for abnormal increase in the market price of garlic in 2014.

The National Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday filed criminal charges against more than 100 individuals and government officials who were suspected behind the spike in the price of garlic last year.

Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima said in a press conference that charges will be filed before the Office of the Ombudsman against 119 officials of the Bureau of Plant Industry, Department of Agriculture and members of the National Garlic Action Team.

Also to be charged are the suspected “dummies” of importer Lilia Cruz alias “Leah Cruz”.

According to De Lima, the respondents conspired in order to manipulate 75 percent of the total importation of garlic in the country through the BPI import permits.

De Lima said that also to be charged is former BPI Director Clarito Barron.

The charges to be filed before the Ombudsman are “direct bribery” and “violation of the Anti-Graft law.”

The NBI earlier filed charges against the respondents before the Department of Justice for violation of the Price Act, monopolies and combinations in restraint of trade, obstruction of justice and the use of fictitious name.

The DOJ confirmed last September 2014 that the cause of the sudden increase in the price of garlic was the conspiracy between some government officials and the importers of garlic.


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