Duterte asks Senate to give EO on lower pork import tariffs a chance

Robie de Guzman   •   April 21, 2021   •   166

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has called on senators to give his executive order lowering tariff rates on pork imports a chance to address issues relating to local pork supply, Malacañang said Wednesday.

“President Rodrigo Roa 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, as mentioned by the Department of Agriculture and the President’s Economic Team,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

Duterte made the appeal after the Senate Committee of the Whole adopted a resolution calling for the withdrawal of Executive Order 128, which mandates that the tariff rate for imported pork meat within quota or minimum access volume (MAV) be reduced to 5 percent during the first three months upon the order’s effectivity, and to 10 percent in 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 order also increases to 350,000 metric tons from 54,000 metric tons of the total volume of pork that may be imported to the Philippines.

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

But the senators argued that the policy could potentially spell the demise of the local hog industry and that the reduction of import duty and the increase in MAV will not necessarily translate to lower pork prices.

The lawmakers also insisted that such policies could only result in the loss of billions of government revenue and the flooding of the market with imported pork.

Roque also urged senators to “revisit the EO in two months to assess whether the aforesaid intended effects have been realized/met.”

He assured that Malacañang is one with the Senate in ensuring the recovery of the local swine industry and the attainment of sufficient domestic pork production.

Malacañang earlier said that Duterte will not stop the Congress’ move to revoke the order as it acknowledged that setting tariffs on pork imports is within the authority of the legislative branch.

Agriculture groups to boycott DA’s food security summit

Marje Pelayo   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines —  A number of agricultural groups are planning to boycott the upcoming food security summit to be conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) on May 18 and 19.

The groups said their concerns and recommendations have been repeatedly ignored that is why they decided not to attend the summit.

Among the policies they are opposed to is the importation of rice, chicken and more importantly pork with lower tariff.

“Ipipilit (lang) iyong ideology ng import liberalization. So bakit kami pupunta?” stressed United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA) president Atty. Bong Inciong.

The Samahan ng Industriyang Agrikultura (SINAG) also noted that their recommendation to have first border protection for testing of imported agricultural food products has yet to be established.

This, they say, is one way to prevent the entry of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country.

“Kaya bakit natin ibo-boycott itong food summit? Dahil nakikita natin eh walang direksyon para sa ating local producers,” noted Rosendo So, president of SINAG.

Hog raisers are also complaining about the unpaid indemnification of hogs affected by the ASF.

The group warned that this could result in another holiday.

“Ipinakikita natin sa kauna-unahang pagkakataon na tayo ay sawang-sawa na at malapit nang dumating sa tingin ko yung food holiday,” argued Nicanor Briones of ProPork.

Amid these complaints, Agriculture Secretary William Dar is encouraging them to participate in the summit so that they can properly air their side.

Dar noted the importance of everyone’s participation especially in a time of pandemic.

“There is now consciousness on the part of every Filipino na ang sektor ng agrikultura ay ganoon kahalaga during this time of health pandemic,” he said.

The Food Security Summit aims to construct policies that will help the country attain food sufficiency. (With reports from Rey Pelayo)

Duterte raises volume of pork imports to 254,210 metric tons

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered an increase in the minimum access volume (MAV) for pork imports to help ensure affordable food and augment the shortage in local supply due to African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak.

Under Executive Order No. 133, which was signed on May 10 but only made public on Tuesday, Duterte raised the MAV for pork meat this year to 254,210 metric tons (MT), from the current 54,210 MT, “provided that the balance at the end of 2021 shall not be carried over to 2022.”

The minimum access volume approved is lower than the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) initial proposal of 404,210 MT following concerns raised by some senators.

Duterte said the ASF outbreak spread to over 12 regions, including 38 provinces and 437 municipalities, and led to the significant reduction of the country’s swine inventory by 3 million heads or 24.1 percent from 2020 to 2021.

The shortage of pork in the country is estimated to be around 388,790 MT based on data from the DA’s National Livestock Program for the year 2021.

“It is imperative to immediately address the current supply gap in pork meat, to provide consumers with adequate and affordable food, and to lower inflation,” the order read.

In the same order, the president directed the MAV Management Committee to ensure that the allocation of the volume importation would be “fair and open” to all qualified importers of pork meat.

The importation must also be carried out in accordance with the rules and regulations for the implementation of the agricultural MAVs, and other pertinent laws.

The order was issued shortly after Duterte declared a nationwide state of calamity due to the ASF outbreak.

Duterte earlier issued an order lowering pork import tariff rates, which was opposed by some senators.

Duterte declares state of calamity due to ASF outbreak

Robie de Guzman   •   May 11, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a nationwide state of calamity due to the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak that has significantly reduced the country’s local supply of pork and spiked its prices according to a document released by Malacañang on Tuesday.

Under Proclamation No. 1143 signed by Duterte on May 10, the state of calamity will last for a period of one year beginning this date “unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant.”

“The ASF is responsible for the significant reduction in the country’s swine population by around three million hogs, resulting in more than P100 billion n losses to the local hog sector and allied industries, and leading to the increased retail prices of pork products,” the proclamation read.

“There is an urgent need to address the continued spread of ASF and its adverse impacts to jumpstart the rehabilitation of the local hog industry, and to ensure the availability, adequacy and affordability of pork products, all for the purpose of attaining food security,” it added.

The president signed the proclamation upon the recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council over the outbreak.

The disease has spread to 12 regions, 46 provinces, 493 cities and municipalities, and 2,671 barangays in the country, the proclamation stated, with new cases continuously being reported despite government interventions.

Duterte said that such declaration will, among others, “afford the national government, and local government units (LGU), ample latitude to utilize appropriate funds, including the Quick Response Fund, in their response efforts to contain the continuing spread of the ASF and restore normalcy in ASF-affected areas.”

Under the proclamation, all government agencies and LGUs are enjoined to render full assistance to and cooperation with each other, and mobilize the necessary resources to undertake “critical, urgent, and appropriate measures in a timely manner” to curtail the further spread of ASF.

Concerned agencies must also address the supply deficit in pork products, reduce retail prices, and jumpstart the rehabilitation of the local hog industry.

Law enforcement agencies, with the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, are also directed to “undertake all necessary measures to ensure peace and order in affected areas, as may be necessary.”

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