17 House lawmakers seek to reverse Duterte's pork tariff cut
Meat stalls are empty at the Trabajo Market in Sampaloc, Manila as vendors take part in a pork holiday last February 8, the first day of a price ceiling imposition for pork and chicken in Metro Manila.
Edd Gumban

17 House lawmakers seek to reverse Duterte's pork tariff cut

Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - April 14, 2021 - 4:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — Seventeen House members from across party lines are mounting a challenge to President Rodrigo Duterte’s cutting of pork tariffs, which they fear will cause “irreparable damage” to the local pork industry.

In a rare move, opposition and administration lawmakers banded together to file Wednesday a House joint resolution to reverse Duterte’s Executive Order 128, which slashed levies on imported pork to as low as 5% and increased allowable pork imports by 749%.

"Tariff reduction and increased … pork imports will further decimate the local pork industry as we know it and will also undermine our local production and food security," they said in the unnumbered joint resolution.

Unlike simple resolutions that express the sense of a chamber, a joint resolution is like a bill and has the force and effect of a law if approved.

They warned that the further decline of the local pork industry will also affect other industries using or dependent on pork products like poultry, corn farmers and coconut farmers.

Instead of tariff cuts and increased pork importation, the lawmakers said the government should implement more effective and long-term solutions to strengthen and rehabilitate the local pork industry devastated by African swine fever.

House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna party-list) said that their resolution will be considered soon by the chamber’s leadership and then adopted.

"We also trust that a similar measure will also be filed and adopted by our Senate counterparts to avert this grave disaster that will certainly kill our local hog industry, in particular,  and in general the agricultural sector,” Zarate said.

The push to revoke Duterte’s EO has gained traction in the upper house after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, together with Senators Cynthia Villar and Francis Pangilinan, said they intend to strike down the tariff cut.

However, there is still a slim chance of overriding Duterte’s EO as Congress is on break until May 16, unless the president calls for a special session.

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