January 8, 2015

The Department of Agriculture supports the move of the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation to help address our concern on reported irregularities in the garlic issue.

Now, charges are being filed before the Office of the Ombudsman and the DOJ against those believed to be involved in the so-called garlic cartel.

And this would give an opportunity for the accused officials of the Bureau of Plant Industry, members of the National Garlic Action Team and its farmers other individuals and groups to face the charges.

But the Department of Agriculture considers the investigation and the process as an opportunity to finally address the problem and to fully implement the reforms that we have introduced to protect the local garlic industry against unfair trade practices.

Let us also say that the Secretary denied any involvement in any illegal act nor has he exerted any influence to favor any business interests in the issuance of “import permits,” or quarantine clearances to be more specific about it. Nowhere in the NBI report that he was accused of benefitting monetarily.

The Secretary is innocent of the malicious imputations against him.

The Department will not condone any activity that runs counter to the principles of good and faithful governance.

For the record, under Sec. Alcala’s leadership, we continued to assert greater transparency and efficiency in the delivery of services at the Bureau of Plant Industry, notably in the issuance of quarantine clearances.

For instance, we released in July 2014 a fresh set of guidelines for the quarantine clearances.

We have always said that the Department should continue to push for good and effective governance.  We have to lead by example, and the Secretary has warned our colleagues in the Department and other stakeholders in the agriculture sector that we will never tolerate shenanigans from prevailing over the good interest of government.

In closing, we lead the Department in urging the consuming public to patronize local garlic and other local agricultural products as the only way to support domestic garlic industry.  (DA-OSEC)