IMPORT MANIPULATION | Ex-DA Sec. Alcala faces graft charges over alleged garlic cartel

3 weeks ago

MARCH 25, 2019 – Former agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala faces graft charges before the Sandiganbayan over the alleged manipulation of the importation of garlic from 2012 to 2013.

Also facing charges are Bureau of Plants Industry Director Clarito Barron, National Quarantine former division chief Luben Quijano-Marasigan, National Quarantine Services Merle B. Palacpac, Vegetable Importer Exporter, Vendors Association (VIEVA) chairman Lilia Matabang Cruz, and other members of VIEVA.

Alcala previously formed the National Garlic Action Team (NGAT) that was meant to handle consultations and create a forum on issues concerning the supply and production of garlic. Cruz was appointed as the chairperson of NGAT.

NGAT reportedly gave undue preference to garlic trader VIEVA and its affiliated importers, as the group secured most of the Import Permits (IPs). The DA granted around 5,000 import permits to VIEVA out of more than 8,000 applications. VIEVA was also granted import permits despite the suspension of the issuance of IPs from July 2012 to October 2013.

The alleged monopoly created by VIEVA resulted to the rise in garlic prices from P260 to P400 per kilo from July to January 2014, compared to the P165 to 170 per kilo in 2013.

The Office of the Ombudsman has recommended a bail bond worth P30,000.