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House panel lifts contempt order on cold storage facility officials

The House Agriculture and Food Committee lifted the contempt order on officials of the Argo International Forwarders Inc. cold storage facility after company officials pledged to submit the pertinent documents requested by lawmakers.

In a statement released by the House of Representatives Media Bureau, the House said that the contempt order on Argo President and General Manager Efren Zoleta Jr., Argo Operations Manager John Patrick Sevilla, and their legal counsel Jan Ryan Cruz was lifted after Cruz assured lawmakers that they had no intention of disregarding the congressional probe nor delaying the process.

“Representative [Rodante] Marcoleta [of 1-Sagip party-list] stated that he has no objection to the lifting of the contempt order as long as all the conditions imposed by the committee's orders are fully complied with,” read the House statement.

Marcoleta also said in the statement that the data to be submitted by Argo officials would help Congress hunt economic predators.

The House Agriculture and Food panel, chaired by Mark Enverga of Quezon, had voted to cite the three Argo officials for contempt and ordered them detained for 10 days for their refusal to turn over their list of clients who stored red onions in their facility during the spike in red onion prices during the last quarter of 2022. 

Just hours before the contempt order was lifted, Enverga announced that Zoleta and Cruz had surrendered themselves to House of Representatives Sergeant-at-Arms Napoleon Taas last Monday in compliance with the contempt order.

Enverga’s panel discussed Argo’s appeal to lift the contempt order on Tuesday, but the discussion was not open to the public or journalists. — DVM, GMA Integrated News