Senate panel urges Duterte to withdraw order cutting pork tariffs
Minimal pork cuts on display are being sold for as high as P350 per kilo at Mega Qmart in Quezon City on April 6, 2021.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Senate panel urges Duterte to withdraw order cutting pork tariffs

(Philstar.com) - April 15, 2021 - 6:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — A Senate panel on Thursday formally called on President Rodrigo Duterte to recall an executive order increasing pork imports and lowering tariffs on them.

Sen. Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, in a press release, said that the Senate Committee of the Whole adopted his resolution calling on the chief executive to withdraw EO No. 128, which increased minimum allowable pork imports and also cut the tariffs for those products as well as those shipped in excess of that.

The Committee of the Whole includes all senators.

All but five senators — Ronald Dela Rosa, Sherwin Gatchalian, Cristopher "Bong" Go, Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, and Francis Tolentino — were listed as co-authors of the resolution.  

The Committee of the Whole on Monday began its probe into the food security crisis ushered in by the African Swine Fever and irregularities in pork importation. The inquiry resumed on Thursday. 

"[I]ndustry members and experts believe that the reduction of import duty and the increase in MAV will not necessarily translate to lower pork prices and that such policies will only result in loss of billions of government revenue and the flooding of the market with imported pork," senators said in their resolution. 

They also asserted that "the power to fix tariff rates and import quotas fall within the realm of the power of taxation, a power which is within the sole province of the legislature under the Constitution."

"[I]t is Congress which authorizes the president to impose tariff rates, import and export quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and other duties or imposts and that such authorization can be exercised only within the specified limits set in the law and is further subject to limitations and restrictions which Congress may impose."

In line with this, the senators further asserted that they would approve in the plenary the appropriate resolution fixing appropriate tariff rates and minimum access volume of pork if and when such an action becomes necessary. 

— Bella Perez-Rubio with reports from Ian Nicolas Cigaral and Xave Gregorio 

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