Bureau of Plant Industry employees tagged for extortion; agency denies

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SOME employees of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) were tagged for extortion, but the agency denied the accusation.

Wilma Ocampo of Cambridge Consumers Cooperative was present in a hearing conducted by the House Committee on Ways and Means. She alleged that some BPI employees asked money from them so that they could release a cargo of imported vegetables.

According to Ocampo, they are a first-time importer and they bought the produce at P1.2 million. But because of some problems they cooperative encountered, Ocampo said they lost around P2.2 million already, and the worst part was they were asked to close shop.

She told the committee that one of their personnel was even asked to pay P20,000 without any receipt, supposed for the schedule of inspection.

Ocampo even mentioned that some employees from BPI asked for an “enrollment” fee amounting to P500,000, but because they do not have that big amount of money, they negotiated and told to pay P150,000, if not, their vegetable will become spoiled.

Ocampo said they already filed a case of extortion at the Manila Regional Trial Court, and also complained at the Presidential Complaint Center. The case, however, was junked by the court.

Jesusa Ascutia of BPI denied the accusation, saying they did not demand any amount of money, The BPI official even provided details of what truly happened that were contrary to Ocampo’s allegations against the BPI.

The BPI official said Cambridge also committed violations, where they should have declared that their imported cargo is “frozen” but turned out these were only “chilled.”

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