Transcript of Sen. Cynthia Villar’s press conference on the garlic cartel

Q: Paki-clarify po ang garlic cartel, itong listahan na ito does it mean there are four players controlling...

Villar: But there are many names di ba? But sabi nila, it's a group. Iyan ang mga names ng kasali sa group. That was a report, that was not our report. That's the report of the Office for Competition of the Department of Justice in 2014. After our investigation of the garlic in 2014, that was their report. Tapos hindi iyan binigay sa DA. Ewan ko, sabi nila binigyan nila ang DA but we changed secretaries. That was given to the DA. It was never given to me. Then somebody gave it to me from the outside. But iyong binigay sa akin is not complete so I asked them. Kasi there is an annex ng names. Iyan yung annex ng names.

Q: Four names parang dummy of the many groups?

Villar: It's a group. Ganyan ang cartel. They will appear to be different but actually they are a group.

Q: Sila pa rin ang same players ngayong 2017?

Villar: You will find the same names here. Ang question is, bakit iyong DOJ meron sila niyan pero hindi sila nag-file ng case. And then, ito namang BPI nakita nila iyan bakit hindi nila binlak list sa kanilang list of importers, di ba?

Q: Ma'm BPI lang po ba or you think merong ding iba...

Villar: DOJ.

Q: Si Secretary as head of DA?

Villar: No, no. I don't know who is involved but you as secretary of agriculture, you are responsible. Under sa iyo iyan eh, whether you know it or not is a different story. Ang point is, there is a report, they name names, they describe the modus operandi. It was a very thick report. And why didn't they study the report and made adjustments sa BPI?

Q: May liability?

Villar: You know when we investigate in Congress, we just investigate. It's the DOJ, nakita mo nga sila gumawa ng report hindi nila na prosecute. They will prosecute now. The report is 2014, walang nafilan ng case di ba? Hindi ba iyong rice smuggling, wala ring nafilan ng case. So walang napa-filan ng case di ba? Kahit isa man lang out of the many, walang napa-filan ng case.

Q: Do you believe Secretary Pinol when he says he didn't know about this?

Villar: Ako, I never say who is responsible but it's BPI. Ngayon kung how far it is doon sa BPI and DOJ... Pero responsibility iyan ng secretary na iyong mga tao niya ma-control niya, both the secretary of Justice and the secretary of DA. That's their responsibility. That is not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to study, conduct hearing and from the hearing,maybe the department should learn from us di ba?

Q: But you are coming up with the recommendation?

Villar: I am asking them, based on our findings, we cannot expect any help from BOC. Wala rin silang nakasuhan. We cannot expect help from DOJ, wala rin silang nakasuhan. Maybe the newly-created Philippine Competition Commission baka pwede na magbigay sila. But ako ang sinasabi ko, the best solution would be for the farmers to learn how to produce more and how to produce it competitively. Kasi kung pareho lang ang halaga or slightly higher lang ang halaga ng production sa Philippines versus our competition, then we are okay kasi magbabayad pa iyon ng freight. Magbabayad pa iyon ng lagay sa customs kung hindi man sila magbabayad ng tariff, kaya na nating mag-compete. That is the best solution. That's why in my next encounter with the DA, I want their long-term program for garlic. I want a yearly target and we want to review every year if we are meeting the target in terms of production and price. Kasi we have to iyong competitiveness ng farmers.

Q: In the mean time?

Villar: baka sakali, mag-produce ang DOJ, mag-produce ang BOC. Baka sakali. I don't know, iba eh. Pagod na ako. I go to BOC to help us, I go to DOJ to help us, wala naman talaga.

Q: Sabi ninyo last hearing kapag kayo napuno, kayo na mismo ang magkakaso? Iyong nakita ninyong pieces of evidence, information, lapses...

Villar: Maski ako ang magkaso kung hindi i-prosecute ng DOJ? Hindi ba kapag nag-file ka ng kaso, depende sa DOJ kung paandarin nila ang kaso o hindi? Do you think paandarin nila ang kaso?

Q: Ano ang nakita ninyong contributing factors sa decreasing production ng garlic?

Villar: Siguro the cartel is making a lot of money so gagawin nilang lahat para hindi maka-produce ang farmer. They are influencing policies of government to prevent the farmers from producing more and and competitively because that is detrimental to their business. Parang common sense naman eh.

Q: What should be done?

Villar: We have to work. Kung kami-kami na lang, tulong-tulong na lang kung sino ang tutulong.

Q: How big is this cartel in terms of monetary value?

Villar: Kasi ang consumption natin ng garlic 130,000 more or less metric tons of garlic a year. More or less, we consume 10,000 metric tons of garlic a month... Halimbawa ang logical price sa market is 100, kasi nakita natin na landed cost 20 daw, ang production cost sa Philippines, 25. Ang logical, max na iyong P100 per kilo. Diba kung nangggaling ka sa 25, hindi pa ba enough na sa market is 100? Very reasonable na iyon, may kita ka na doon. Kapag umakyat iyan ng 200 at 10,000 metric tons, 1 billion iyon. Kapag umakyat iyan ng 300, 2 billion a month iyon. Ganun sila kayaman. 1 to 2 billion everytime paakyatin nila. For every P100 per kilo na extraordinary gains, that is equivalent to 1 billion. Kung 50, 500 million. Pag 100, 1 billion every months. Kapag 150, 1.5 billion; kapag 200, 2 billion. Iyon ang range, doon nagre-range ang spikes, 150 to 300. Kapag 120 pa lang, hindi nagrereklamo ang consumer. Nagsisimulamg magreklamo pag 150 to 200 to 300. Sa 10,000 metric tons a month, multiply mo iyon ang extraordinary gain nila.

Q: Mas malaki ang rice?

Villar: Ang rice tingin ko 10 billion a year. Ganun din ito. Kasi ang rice palaging ganoon, smuggling iyon. Ito kasi nagi-spike.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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