• Plant bureau cries foul over garlic probe

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    An inquiry into an alleged garlic cartel ordered by the Department of Justice was questioned by government officials who were dragged into the issue by a high-profile broker.

    In a statement given to the media, Bureau of Plant Industry Director Clarito Barron on Thursday denied accusations made by broker Lilybeth Valenzuela that the BPI worked with the cartel to manipulate garlic prices.

    Barron pointed out that the Department of Trade and other agencies, not the BPI, has the power to regulate prices.

    The BPI, he said, is mandated by Presidential Decree 1433 to guard against entry and spread of plant pests in the Philippines.

    Barron turned the tables against Valenzuela by disclosing an alleged attempt by the broker to force the entry of more than 500 kilos of fresh strawberries in 156 cases from the United States without undergoing inspection last May 2014.

    He said Valenzuela made the “baseless” accusations when the BPI disallowed entry of the strawberries.

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