Metro Manila, Philippines — The Philippines is importing 21,000 metric tons of onions that are scheduled for delivery in December, the head of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry said on Monday.

DA-BPI Director Gerald Glenn Panganiban told reporters that the imports of the bulbs should boost supply, easing the pressure on prices in the run-up to the Christmas holidays.

“Medyo tumataas na siya, siguro P10, P20. But dahil kino-complement natin dahil halos paubos na stocks natin o baka hindi pa nailalabas, we are complementing it with the importation na sapat for the month,” Panganiban said.

[Translation: It’s getting a little higher, maybe P10, P20. But because our stocks are almost down or maybe they haven’t been released yet, we are complementing it with the importation that is enough for the month.]

According to the plant bureau official, local red onions currently are fetching from P140 to P180 per kilo.

“You will see it in the coming days or weeks na magkaka-supply na yun, for sure baba na yan ang ating presyo [it will be supplied, for sure prices will be lower].” Panganiban said

The bureau came under fire last month after the House of Representatives ordered its officials to explain the proliferation of imported onions in the local markets.

The DA mounted an internal investigation within the Bureau of Plant Industry and submitted its reply to a show-cause order issued by the House committee on agriculture and food.

Panganiban added that the agency is reviewing rules governing cold storage of imported vegetables.

“Pag fresh vegetables one month. Pag processed na, mga 60 days. But we’re coming up with guidelines para mas maging efficient yung ating import arrivals [for more efficient import arrivals].”