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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Ex-NSA denies submitting ‘report’ on onion smugglers

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Former National Security Adviser (NSA) Clarita Carlos said she did not submit a report to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. which identified personalities supposedly linked to smuggling and hoarding of onions.

Carlos, quoted by a GMA News report, said the claims “have no basis.”

According to Carlos, it is the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) that should be asked if it has submitted such a report to Mr. Marcos.

Carlos called on those behind the information about the supposed report to stop, adding that “I already resigned. Leave me alone,”

The speculations emerged after Carlos resigned from her post as National Security Adviser and transferred to the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department of the House of Representatives, GMA News reported.

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Earlier, a Senate inquiry was launched to investigate the high prices of onions in the country. President Marcos, who is also the Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary, said he did not believe there were people who plotted to have Carlos removed as National Security Adviser.

Rep. Wilbert T. Lee of AGRI party-list group meanwhile called for greater collaboration between the government and agriculture stakeholders in battling agricultural smuggling.

“Our agri-stakeholders are there offering their help (to address the issue on agricultural smuggling). I hope the government accepts this offer, as we need all the help we can get to comprehensively address agri-smuggling in our country,” Lee said.

The lawmaker emphasized that the involvement of stakeholders that face the issue of smuggling and are most affected by its effects “should be given a seat at the table.” These stakeholders have key insights that policy-makers and implementers might miss out on, Lee added.

Lee also lauded the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), which has been working with the DA’s counter-intelligence team in various operations in entry ports such as Manila and Subic.

The lawmaker also urged President Marcos, Jr. to institutionalize the inspectorate and enforcement division of the DA, which is currently headed by Asst. Sec. James Layug.

In other developments, the Philippine Egg Board Association (PEBA) is discouraging the public from buying frozen eggs as these are not according to standards.

At the Mega Q Mart in Quezon City, frozen eggs are being sold at P55 per kilo, GMA News reported. The eggs which are taken out of their shells are placed in a plastic bag which is kept in a freezer.

This costs much less than fresh eggs, which on Wednesday had the following prices at Mega Q Mart: P210 per tray for extra small eggs, P220 per tray for small; P227 for medium; P235 for large; P246 for extra large; and P252 for jumbo. One egg meanwhile is around P5, which is lower than the prices last week.

PEBA president Irwin Ambal warned the public against buying frozen eggs. “It’s hard because these need to be kept in cold chain, either in a chiller [or freezer.]”

Ambal added that these eggs are called ‘loret’ in Batangas. “These are cracked eggs that could not be sold or placed on a tray. Some poultry farmers put the eggs together in a plastic bag, which in turn are placed in a pail,” he said.

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