By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

HOARDING. Authorities foil the hoarding of imported onions and garlic at a warehouse in Manila on Friday (Feb. 17, 2023). Along with similar items seized in a separate raid in Malabon, the vegetables were worth a total of PHP135 million. (Photo courtesy of PNP PIO)

MANILA – Authorities have foiled the hoarding of imported onions and garlic worth PHP135 million during separate raids at warehouses and establishments in Manila and Malabon City.

Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Brig. Gen. Romeo Caramat Jr. said on Saturday that the operations happened between 3 p.m. Friday and 1 a.m. Saturday, and covered 23 warehouses and establishments in the two cities.

The joint operations involved personnel of the CIDG-Anti-Transnational Crime Unit, the Bureau of Customs, and the Philippine Coast Guard.

Caramat said 40 tons to 50 tons of imported onion and garlic worth PHP40 million were seized from 18 warehouses along Carmen Planas Street and three warehouses along Sto. Cristo Street, both in Tondo, Manila; one warehouse in Binondo, Manila; and another in Balut, Tondo, Manila.

Meanwhile, an estimated 250 tons of imported onions and garlic worth about PHP95 million were confiscated from a warehouse along Governor Pascual Avenue, Barangay Catmon, Malabon City.

“The operation was carried out in response to numerous reports of illegal importation and hoarding of agri-products, particularly locally produced onions, and garlic,” Caramat said in a statement.

The confiscated goods have been sealed and padlocked, while investigations are ongoing to determine the individuals involved in the alleged illegal activities and for the filing of appropriate criminal charges.

The authorities encouraged the public to report any illegal activities related to the importation, storage, and distribution of agricultural products to help them in their efforts to maintain a fair and lawful market for these essential goods.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. expressed his satisfaction with the successful operation.

“This is a major breakthrough in our fight against illegal activities in the agricultural industry,” he said. “The rampant illegal importation and hoarding of agri-products, particularly onions and garlic, is a serious concern that affects not only the livelihood of our farmers but also the food security of our country. We will continue to work closely with our partner agencies to put an end to these unlawful practices and to bring those responsible to justice.” (PNA)