On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol disclosed the banning of 43 importers who failed to use their import permits.
The DA official came forward with the announcement in the midst of rising prices of garlic in the local markets.
The ban on 43 traders would leave 111 more players in the garlic trading industry.
Previously granted permits, the banned traders were allowed to import 70,000 metric tons of garlic for the year 2017 but came short of bringing in 50,748 metric tons. Instead, only 19,252 metric tons were imported.
Pinol recognized that manipulation of garlic supply which caused the price increase in the local market as a clear sign of the existence of a cartel blaming the importers who failed to fill up the demand.
It took this long time before a senior government official in the Duterte administration would finally admit the existence of garlic cartel in the country.
The Philippines can only produce around 7,469 metric tons of garlic planted to 2,646 hectares per year, roughly equivalent to 7-percent of the total requirement of the local market.
In the same instance, the DA chief was quick to categorically say no personnel of his department is involved in the cartel.
Pinol admitted that the department will now focus on the neglected agricultural sectors such as garlic and onion.
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