Palace: Give EO on lower pork tariffs a chance
A display of pork meat for sale at Commonwealth Market in Quezon City on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
The STAR/Boy Santos

Palace: Give EO on lower pork tariffs a chance

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 22, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday urged senators to give the executive order that lowered the tariffs on pork imports a chance, expressing willingness to revisit the policy in two months to determine if its desired outcomes have been attained.

“President Duterte is asking the esteemed members of the Senate to give Executive Order No. 128 a chance and consider its intended effects, which include addressing the shortage in swine meat, stabilizing the price of pork meat and minimizing inflation rate,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

Roque reiterated that EO 128 aims to stabilize pork prices and ensure enough supply of meat.

“Let us revisit the EO in two months to assess whether the aforesaid intended effects have been realized/met,” he added.

Under the order, the tariff rate for imported pork will be five percent for the first three months, ten percent for the 4th to 12th month and 30 percent after the 12th month. The tariff rates for out-quota pork imports will be 15 percent for the first three months, 20 percent for the 4th to 12th month and 40 percent after the 12th month.

Senate and House lawmakers filed resolutions seeking to revoke the EO, stating that tariff cuts would harm the local hog industry and result in P3.6 billion in foregone state revenues.

Last Tuesday, Duterte stood by his decision to approve the lower tariffs, noting that he can easily withdraw the EO if pork prices go down.

Senate probe

The Senate committee of the whole will pursue its probe into the alleged multibillion-peso corruption at the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Bureau of Customs (BOC) involving pork imports, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said yesterday.

Sotto said the Senate will reconvene on Tuesday to tackle issues surrounding Duterte’s move to raise the minimum access volume (MAV) on pork to 350,000 metric tons (MT).

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III were invited as resource persons in the Senate probe.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan urged Malacañang to hold a dialogue with hog raisers, instead of appealing to give the EO a chance.

For his part, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said the chamber could not do anything about the Palace stand on the matter since EO 128 and the increased MAV have already taken effect.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon warned the matter could be raised before the Supreme Court.

“Is the increase in MAV levels ‘deemed approved’ due to the alleged failure of Congress to act on the President’s recommendation as provided by law, considering that we received the President’s recommendation only on March 26, when the Senate was no longer in session?” Drilon asked.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros warned the flood of imports will lead to closures of hog farms and the spread of African swine fever as the country has no credible border protection for such diseases. – Paolo Romero

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