Ex-aggie chief sued over garlic issue

A GRAFT case was filed before the Sandiganbayan against former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala that stemmed from alleged manipulation of garlic supply that led to a surge in prices in 2014.

Charged with Alcala were Clarito Barron, director of the Bureau of Plants Industry; Luben Marasigan, former division chief of the National Quarantine Services Division (NQSD); Merle Palacpac, division chief of NQSD; Lilia Cruz, chairman and owner of the Vegetable Importers, Exporters Vendors Association of the Philippines (VIEVA), and VIEVA directors Edmond Caguinguin, Rolan Galvez, Rochelle Diaz, Ma. Jackilou Ilagan, Jon de Vera, Napoleon Baldueza, Jose Ollegue, Laila Matabang, Angelita Flores, Gaudioso Diatco, Denia Matabang, Jose Angulo Jr., Raffy Torres, Mary Grace Sebastian, and Renato Francisco Jr., and owners of various garlic organizations Rolando Manangan, Orestes Salon, Prudencio Ruedas, and Sheila Mary dela Cruz.

The prosecution alleged that the accused  manipulated the supply that led to a surge in prices of garlic by controlling the importation permit.

According to the prosecution, 5,022 of the 8,810 import permits issued from 2010 to 2014 went to VIEVA and approved by Alcala, Barron, Palacpac, and Marasigan despite the existing suspension on garlic importation.