MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday gave his assurance that the executive order that he signed lowering the tariff on imported pork is just a temporary measure.
In his pre-recorded Talk to the Nation aired on Monday night, the President responded to the move of the Senate to recall Executive Order 128.
The president said that while he understands the senators’ move, his finance managers believe that their decision will help the businessmen who can import pork to bring down the price of pork and pork products.
“I can understand from where the senators come from, and there is also the domestic supply they intend to protect. And they are vehement about it. I think that they think that they are right,” the president said.
Duterte, however, said that as soon as the price of pork goes down, they can always recall the said order.
“Problem is yung mga managers ko, mga finance, I’d like to mention Secretary Dar, NEDA, and maybe Sonny Dominguez, are really in favor. Para sa kanila, the managers ng departamento ko believe that it would, in the end, tutal kung medyo malakas na yung domestic market and there is a movement, madali lang naman eh, we can always withdraw the EO that I signed,” he said.
“It’s just a temporary measure really to bring down the prices, but the senators see it in a different light,” he said.
The president insists that his order will contribute greatly to the benefit of the people.
“I’m sure that itong mga senador they have already their stand. I know that they’re insisting to it, while we — yung mga managers ng department ko — kami yung nag-iimplement, kami yung nagpapagalaw. We implement certain measures that could redound, we believe, to the benefit of the people,” the president further said.
Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar said that while the setting up of price ceiling from February to April has helped in bringing down the country’s inflation rate from 4.7 to 4.5, the tendency of some traders was to bring up the prices of the locally produced.
Dar added that the president’s EO was to address the insufficient supply of pork in the market.
“The range of 388,000 metric tons po ang kakulangan at ang demand po natin this year based sa 15 kilos per capita consumption ay nasa 1.6 million metric tons po ang demand. Kung titingnan natin ang supply ay nasa 1.2 million metric tons. So talagang may pagkukulang po tayo ng supply dito sa taon na ito. Gawa naman nagshrink, bumaba po yung ang local food production ng 25%,” he said.
He further said that the EO was not designed to bring down the hog industry.
“We are not killing the local hog industry. Ang inaangkat lang po natin, mahal ng pangulo ay yung kakulangan lang natin itong taon. So yung mga measures na pinapatupad po natin, through your approval, ay mapababa natin ang inflation kasi bababa talaga ang presyo sa merkado dito sa mga imported pork. So yung EO 128 was a result of painstaking process. And that’s why the lowering of tariff will really lower down the pork prices in the market,” he said.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Acting Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua also stressed that the EO will help in lowering the country’s inflation rate to 3.8%.
NEDA forecasts that with the implementation of the EO, the price of pork will drop from more than P300 per kilo to P215 to P220 per kilo.
“We are in a COVID crisis right now. We cannot afford that the people will have both an income problem and a price problem,” Chua stressed.
With the explanations of DA and NEDA, the president hopes that the public will understand the economic managers in arriving at certain levels of decision to make it more responsive to the demand of the economic situation of the Philippines.