PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has ordered the inspection of smuggled onions in the country to see if they are safe for human consumption before releasing them to the market amid a bid to arrest their soaring prices.

Marcos said there is a need to tap third-party inspectors to conduct phytosanitary inspections to check for transboundary diseases.

He said inspection costs P5,000 per kilo, much higher than the value of the onion.

“The problem with the onions we’ve been trying... since kasi ang dami nating nahahanap na smuggled onions, pinipilit kong ilabas diyan sa market [and] unfortunately, we do not know the source of these onions. So they all have to be inspected. Hindi puwedeng random,” Marcos said in a Cabinet meeting.

“So ‘yun lang ang quandary natin. We are trying to negotiate with third parties to do the inspection. But right now, we are still reviewing all of that. They really have to be very safe kasi just one batch na makalusot, maraming magkakasakit talaga. So that’s the situation there,” he added.

Since December, the price of onion, a staple vegetable for Filipinos, ranges from P600 to P720 per kilo.

Authorities were blaming unscrupulous traders and hoarders for the unreasonable price of onion in the country.

Bureau of Customs Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz earlier said more than 500 container vans of smuggled agricultural items, including onions, are still at the ports where they were confiscated.

It said they are eyeing to donate the remaining shipments of seized agricultural products to Kadiwa stores, a project of the Department of Agriculture aimed to empower the farming community by providing a direct and effective farm-to-consumer food supply chain and reduce marketing expenses in order to make the fresh and quality products more affordable for consumers.

On Tuesday, Ombudsman Samuel Martires said they will be conducting a probe on DA officials over the unreasonable increase of prices of onions. (SunStar Philippines)