Senator Kiko Pangilinan welcomed the government’s revisions on the prevailing tariff and minimum access volume (MAV) for pork imports.
“Tagumpay ito ng ating sama-sama at tulong-tulong na pagbabantay. Nagpursigi tayo para marinig ang hinaing ng mga apektado ng ASF at ang sobra-sobrang pag-angkat ng baboy,” said Pangilinan, who has raised the effects of African swine fever (ASF) and massive pork importation in a Senate Resolution urging the declaration of a State of Calamity to, among others, free up funds needed to respond to the ASF.
“Umalma ang industriya ng magbababoy dahil luging-lugi sila sa pagpapatupad ng EO 128. Matapos ang ilang pagdinig sa Senado kung saan nag-usap-usap ang lahat at na-present ang kanya-kanyang panig, naging malinaw kung ano ang dapat gawin: suportahan ang lokal,” the veteran legislator added.
Last April, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) 128 that dramatically reduced the tariff rates for pork importation in a bid to rapidly bring down the price of pork.
An EO on increasing the MAV is also pending the President’s signature.
MAV refers to the volume of a specific agricultural product that is allowed to be imported with a lower tariff as committed by the Philippines to the World Trade Organization.
This, however, was met with severe criticisms from local hog raisers, who said that over-reliance on pork importation will kill the local industry that has already suffered losses of around P68 billion due to ASF.
Under the economic team’s revised proposal, instead of the 5 percent (%) tariff under EO 128 for in quota importation of pork, it will be increased to 10% during the first three months, and 15% for the fourth to 12th month.
For pork imports outside of quota, tariff will be increased to 20% from EO 128’s 15 percent for the first three months, and 25% for the fourth to 12th month.
Additionally, instead of increasing the current MAV of pork by 350,000 metric tons (MT) for a total of 404,000 MT, the DOF instead proposes to lower the addition to 200,000 MT for a total of 254,000 MT.
According to the economic team, this will bring down pork prices by 23.1%.
“Malapit na ito sa proposal ng ating mga magbababoy.”
“Malapit na ito sa proposal ng ating mga magbababoy na wag masyadong babaan ang taripa at lakihan ang MAV. The next step should be how to capacitate and support the local hog industry as they try to recover from ASF. Hindi sila dapat mapabayaan habang umaasa tayo sa pandagdag sa suplay mula sa importation,” the seasoned lawmaker stressed.
The local hog industry also supports the senator’s call for a declaration of a State of Calamity, saying that the funds are badly needed in order for them to recover, protect unaffected areas, and freeze interest rates on hog raisers’ loans.
A resolution has already been cleared and is only pending approval of the President.
With the threat of ASF knocking at their doorstep, hog raisers from Visayas and Mindanao expressed support for Pangilinan’s call for a declaration of State of Calamity due to ASF in an online dialogue held recently.
“Ang sa atin sana ay ang specific need namin dito ay madagdagan dapat ang gawin ng gobyerno para ma-proteksyunan ‘yung mga areas na hindi pa tinatamaan. Kung tatamaan talaga tayo, babahain tayo (ng imported). Mawawala talaga ang industry,” said Nonon Tambago, chairman of the Central Visayas Pork Producers.
Pangilinan stressed that the declaration would free up funds to address the problems caused by the disease and the much-needed biosafety protocols implementation in the areas would have its funding.
The private sector also laments that its members are spending funds from their own pockets just to ensure that ASF does not reach their regions.
He explained that as long as a State of Calamity is declared nationwide, funding should be available for biosafety protocols even in the unaffected areas to avert its spread there.
“As long as a State of Calamity is declared nationwide, funding should be available for biosafety protocols.”
“Kapag nationwide ang declaration ng State of Calamity, kahit sa Visayas, kahit sa Mindanao, pwede nang pwede nang umpisahan ang paggastos ng biosafety protocol budget,” Pangilinan added.
The group also expressed concerns about pork landing in their areas, which are almost ASF-free and are therefore sufficient in terms of supply.
Pangilinan said he would demand from the DA strict monitoring of the imports through a resolution to create a sub-committee within the department that would submit monthly reports on the status of the importations, as well as the status of their implementation of the campaign against ASF.
“Ang i-introduce ko rin sa resumption ng hearing ng Senado ay kung papaano natin babantayan ang importation nung karne para hindi ito aabusuhin, hindi ito gagawing kasangkapan para may kumita o ma-cartelize, at mababantayan natin,” he concluded.