3 senators to file joint resolution seeking to revoke EO on lower pork import tariffs

Robie de Guzman   •   April 13, 2021   •   346

MANILA, Philippines – Three senators are planning to file a resolution seeking the revocation of the executive order issued by President Rodrigo Duterte reducing the tariff rate for pork imports.

In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that he, together with Senator Francis Pangilinan and Senate agriculture committee chairperson Senator Cynthia Villar, will file a joint resolution to revoke Executive Order (EO) 128 and provide for the appropriate tariff and minimum access volume of port importation.

The order mandates that the tariff rate for imported pork meat within quota or minimum access volume (MAV) will be reduced to 5 percent during the first three months upon the order’s effectivity, and to 10 percent during the months four to 12.

For pork imports outside the quota, the order cuts the tariff to 15 percent during the first three months upon its effectivity, and 20 percent for the months four to 12.

The EO said that the current 30 percent to 40 percent tariff rate for imported pork will be restored after the 12th month.

Duterte signed the order last week in a bid to address supply shortage, stabilize prices, and minimize the inflation rate due to the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak.

“By law, the authority of the President to fix tariff rates while Congress is not in session can be withdrawn or revoked by virtue of a joint resolution,” Drilon said.

The senator cited Republic Act 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, which was the basis of EO 128, stating that the law allows the President to increase, reduce or remove existing rates of import duty “while Congress is not in session.”

However, he noted that Section 1608 (f) of RA 10863 provides that “the power herein delegated to the President may be withdrawn or terminated by Congress through a joint resolution.”

“EO 128 will kill the local hog industry, not the African Swine Fever or ASF. The irrational and drastic decision to increase the minimum access volume or MAV serves as a final ‘nail in the coffin’ of the local hog industry,” Drilon said.

“Our local hog raisers suffered a double blow in the last two weeks and it is the duty of Congress to stand up for them. Hindi kaya ng maliliit nating hog raisers ang laban sa mga malalaking importers of meat products,” he added.

Drilon said the drastic decrease in tariffs on pork products could result in billions of pesos in lost government revenue.

He added that the Department of Agriculture’s move to recommend the reduction of tariff rates “completely disregarded the livelihood of thousands of local hog raisers.”

During the hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on Monday, Drilon questioned the timing of the submission of the President’s proposal to Congress to increase the MAV to 350,000 metric tons (t) from 54,000 t, which was submitted on March 26, the last day of Congress’ session.

He said that Section 6 of the Republic Act 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act provides that “in case of shortages or abnormal price increases in agricultural products, whose quantitative restrictions are lifted under this Act, the President may propose to Congress, revisions, modifications or adjustments of the Minimum Access Volume (MAV).

He, however, noted that this comes with the provision, which states “that in the event Congress fails to act after 15 days from receipt of the proposal, the same shall be deemed approved.”

Drilon maintained that the power to revise, modify or adjust the MAV is a legislative function.

He said that the proposal should have been submitted while Congress was in session to determine the necessary adjustments and that the President could have asked for a special session to discuss the proposal.

New agreement on pork imports to benefit consumers — Sotto

Marje Pelayo   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Senators and government economic managers have agreed to propose an amendment to the Executive Order 128 signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, according to Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Based on what both sides have agreed upon, import tariffs on in-quota on pork will be reduced to 15% provided it is within the minimum access volume (MAV) on the first three months of implementation.

After three months, it will be increased to 20% for the succeeding months.

Meanwhile, the initial recommendation of 400,000 metric tons for minimum access volume (MAV) will be reduced to 254, 000 metric tons.

Sotto believes this will benefit the economy, the local hog raisers and most importantly, the consumers.

“The swine industry has many allied industries like corn, crops, transportation. Kaya hindi porke hindi ka kumakain ng pork ay wala kang kinalaman dito. May kinalaman ka dito kapag tinamaan ka ng inflation na mabigat,” Sotto said.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee of the Whole will soon release its committee report on the three hearings they conducted.

The reports are expected to contain recommendations on the possible amendments in EO 128 to prevent technical smuggling of pork imports and to clarify the role of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the National Meat Inspection Sevice (NMIS) for that matter.

“The committee report will contain the content of the proceedings and what we feel should be legislated or if not, the executive department should work on,” Sotto said.

Sotto added that the Senate should be informed right away once the new EO is released. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Duterte EO on lower pork import tariffs to be amended – Sotto

Robie de Guzman   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to allow more pork imports at lower tariffs for a temporary period will be amended after a compromise on the policy was reached, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Wednesday.

In a message to reporters, Sotto said senators and the administration’s economic managers have agreed to make adjustments on policies concerning pork importation to “strike a balance” between lowering inflation and ensuring the welfare of domestic hog industry.

“We had to strike a balance between accepting a formula in the reduction of inflation and the protection of the local swine industry,” he said.

Sotto did not elaborate on the amendments that both parties have agreed upon, saying he will let Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III make the announcement.

“I’ll let Sec. Dominguez announce the figures we accepted after a seesaw of discussion on both MAV and tariff,” he said.

The Executive Order 128 temporarily cuts the tariff rate on pork imports within the minimum access volume (MAV) quota to 5 percent, from the current rate of 30 percent, for the first three months upon the effectivity of the presidential directive. The reduced rate will go up to 10 percent for the next nine months thereafter.

It also increases the MAV quota for pork from 54,210 metric tons (MT) to 404,210 MT.

Dominguez earlier said that Duterte’s order was an “immediate and practicable” response to avoid price spikes.

Duterte also said in his order that the policy seeks to address the existing pork supply shortage, stabilize prices of pork meat, and minimize inflation rates.

But senators argued that this could potentially spell the demise of the local hog industry, and called on the president, through a resolution, to withdraw the order. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

DOF: Temporary reduction of pork import tariffs ‘immediate, practicable’ solution to check inflation

Robie de Guzman   •   April 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to allow more pork imports at lower tariffs for a temporary period is an “immediate and practicable” response to avoid price spikes, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Tuesday.

During the resumption of the Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry into the food crisis resulting from the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak, Dominguez said the measure was intended to protect Filipino consumers form price spirals that could further drive up inflation and undermine the country’s economic recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The DOF chief noted that the spike in meat prices this year has unduly jacked up food inflation, thus “exacerbating the problems of unemployment, hunger and reduced or lost incomes for many Filipinos” that have led people to rely on community pantries for aid.

Dominguez, a former agriculture secretary, said that although the presidential directive appears to be a painful solution as it would lead to a revenue loss of P13.68 billion for the government, this would actually slash pork prices to a level estimated to save Filipino consumers a whopping P67.38 billion.

“The worse we could do in a situation like the one we are facing today is to let supply issues force food prices up even more. If food prices rise, the inflation rate also increases. If the inflation rate rises, interest rate increases will follow. This unhealthy chain of events will make economic recovery even more difficult for all,” the finance chief told senators.

“The short-term and only practicable strategy for the current problem is contained in Executive Order 128,” he added.

EO 128 temporarily cuts the tariff rate on pork imports within the minimum access volume (MAV) quota to 5 percent, from the current rate of 30 percent, for the first three months upon the effectivity of the presidential directive. The reduced rate will go up to 10 percent for the next nine months thereafter.

It also increases the MAV quota for pork from 54,210 metric tons (MT) to 404,210 MT.

“Again, more than the economics of it, EO 128 is a response to protect our people from shortages and price spikes during this difficult time. We need to do it now for the sake of our countrymen,” Dominguez said.

He also explained that the increase in the MAV quota for pork factors in the estimated supply deficit for 2021 at up to 477,000 MT based on estimates by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

“Thus, the temporary increase in pork imports will not ‘kill’ the local hog industry as feared by some quarters, given that imports would potentially account for only up to 22.8 percent of total consumption,” Dominguez said.

The Finance chief also emphasized that the decision to adjust pork import tariffs “was not done haphazardly, but underwent extensive deliberations and consultations among the public and concerned agencies, with all the tradeoffs considered in the cost-benefit analysis.”

“We are not giving up on the domestic pork industry. The interventions of the Department of Agriculture to help the industry are aggressive. They expect them to yield even greater benefits once a permanent solution to the ASF outbreak becomes available,” Dominguez said.

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