Senate wants Duterte to revoke order on pork imports

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Senators on Thursday had adopted a resolution appealing for President Rodrigo Duterte’s withdrawal of his recent directive that slashed the tariffs on pork imports to address the problems in pork supply due to the African Swine Fever outbreak.

It was led by Senate President Tito Sotto and Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, with Sotto manifesting that he was “not satisfied” with the reasons cited by the Department of Agriculture in requesting Malacañang to reduce the pork import duties to just 5-15% of the declared shipment value over the next three months.

According to Bureau of Animal Industry director Reildrin Morales, price of liempo (pork belly) is expected to drop to PHP275-PHP295 per kilogram from the current PHP 350 once the additional imports at cheap duties enter the country in the next three months. However, Sen. Ralph Recto emphasized that only big supermarkets are capable of properly handling frozen products from abroad.

This means only supermarkets are able to benefit from the lower prices, and not the public ones.

“Sa makatuwid, hindi rin bababa ang presyo sa palengke kasi frozen ‘yan, pang-supermarket hindi sa palengke,” Recto manifested in the Senate Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday. Recto, along with other senators, pointed out that some PHP 3 billion to PHP 14 billion will be lost due to the order to forgo tax collection.

Meanwhile, other lawmakers questioned the DA’s seeming prioritization of imports as a solution to the “severe” supply shortage, rather than focusing on direct support to hog raisers.