DA suspects syndicate hoarding red onions

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 13) --- The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Tuesday said it suspects that a syndicate is hoarding red onions as prices of the commodity remain high.

According to DA deputy spokesperson Rex Estoperez, prices of red onions were still cheap during the harvest season, but a syndicate could have kept the supplies.

"Hindi bumababa ang presyo even though ine-encourage natin yung mga nagtatago ng pulang sibuyas [na ilabas]… Doon sa ibang markets, may bahagya lang, pero napakakaunti," he told a public briefing.

[Translation: The price has yet to go down though we are encouraging hoarders to release their stocks… In other markets, there's only a slight movement in prices.]

Estoperez added that they will visit Nueva Ecija to check possible off-season harvests, which could be added to the current supply of red onions. He assured the public there is enough supply for the holiday season.

"Lagpas naman po tayo sa ating supply. 'Yun nga lang ang question pa rin doon, yung presyo," he said.

[Translation: We have more than enough supply. But the question is if there will be a change in prices.]

Meanwhile, agricultural group SINAG said it does not believe that there is hoarding.

The group called on the government to import red onions as soon as possible, saying supply is really low.

"Dapat nag-angkat na tayo ngayon. If hindi tayo umangkat, after 10 days pa, baka mag-spill over ito ng January," SINAG chairman Rosendo So told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: We should have already imported by now. If we will import after 10 days, this problem may spill over until January.]