Palace respects calls to revoke EO lowering tariff of imported pork

Robie de Guzman   •   April 14, 2021   •   244

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang respects the plan of some senators to file a joint resolution seeking the revocation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s executive order, which temporarily reduces the tariff rates of imported pork products.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque issued the statement after Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said that he and Senators Cynthia Villar and Franklin Pangilinan are intent on filing a resolution to reverse Duterte’s Executive Order 128.

“The Palace respects the call of some lawmakers to revoke Executive Order No 128, which temporarily modifies the rates of import duty on fresh, chilled or frozen meat of swine,” Roque said.

The Palace official acknowledged that Congress has the authority to revoke EO 128.

“In the event that our lawmakers decide to reverse EO No 128 lowering the tariff on imported pork, such action is within the legislative power of our lawmakers. EO No 128 lowering the tariff of imported pork is only a delegated power given by Congress to the President to impose tariff rates, imports or exports pursuant to Sec. 28 par 2, Art VI of the Constitution,” he said.

“Hence, Congress may, by law, impose limitations on such delegated power or may reverse the same,” he added.

EO 128 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.

Drilon said the resolution seeks to revoke the EO  and provide for the appropriate tariff and minimum access volume of port importation.

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.

Roque, however, said that the president can still exercise his veto power should he raise objections in the tariff bill.

“Further, should Congress pass another bill changing the tariff on imported pork, the President may veto any particular item or items in such appropriation, revenue, or tariff bill,” he said.

“However, given the importance of the issue, the Executive and the Legislative branches can work together in protecting the interest of the stakeholders such as consumers and our hog raisers alike,” he added.

Why did Duterte tap out of challenge to debate with Carpio?

Robie de Guzman   •   May 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he is not afraid of facing retired Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on issues surrounding the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte last week dared Carpio to square off on the loss of a Philippine territory during the Aquino administration, but later tapped out and instead delegated the task to his spokesperson, lawyer Harry Roque.

“What was in my mind when I challenged Carpio into a debate? Ang problema lang kasi dito nakalimutan ko na si Carpio hindi ang presidente – ako,” Duterte said in his weekly Talk to the People on Monday night.

Duterte said he had to back out of the challenge because anything he might say there could be construed as a “policy statement.”

“I might bind future actions of government pagdating dito sa West Philippine Sea,” he said.

“Pero dodoon ako sa kahon, it’s not because I am afraid of debates,” he added, saying that he had faced many debates with political rivals for the presidency in 2016.

“Hindi ako takot sa’yo, ang problema, hindi ko nga alam na hindi ka president,” he further said, addressing Carpio.

Duterte has blamed the previous administration over the loss of the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea following a standoff in 2012.

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier said that China “deceitfully breached” its agreement with the Philippines to withdraw the ships of both sides to end the standoff.

The Philippines then pursued an arbitral case against China in 2014. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in 2016 in favor of the Philippines and nullified China’s vast claims in the South China Sea, including parts of the West Philippine Sea.

Duterte said he tried pursuing the arbitral ruling but nothing happened.

China has been ignoring the diplomatic protest that the Philippine government has repeatedly filed over the incursion of Chinese vessels in the contested waters.

Duterte won’t debate with Carpio; taps spox Roque for face-off on WPS issue

Robie de Guzman   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will not face retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on the issues about the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the chief executive made the decision after several Cabinet members and two senators advised him not to square off with Carpio as this might compromise national policies and confidential information.

Roque, a lawyer, said the president has delegated to him the task of debating with Carpio on the issue.

“Ang sabi po ni Presidente, kung papayag si Antonio Carpio, tuloy ang debate dahil importante naman na marinig ang mga ideya para ang mga taong bayan ay makagawa ng konklusyon,” Roque said in an announcement over state-run PTV.

“Ang sabi po ni President, itinatalaga niya po ang inyong abang lingkod na makipag-debate kay retired justice Antonio Carpio,” he added.

 Roque said he has accepted Duterte’s directive.

“Sabihin lang po ng Philippine Bar Association kung saan at kailan ang debate at sisipot po tayo roon,” he said.

Duterte on Wednesday dared Carpio to go on a debate on the West Philippine Sea issue. He said he would ask Carpio on who ordered the Philippine Navy to retreat from the area during the 2012 standoff; what the administration of then President Benigno Aquino did about it; and if they enforced the ruling when they filed and won the case.

Carpio accepted Duterte’s dare but he denied involvement in the issue of China’s occupation of some areas in the contested waters.

“Totoo po hinamon po ni Presidente si justice Carpio sa isang debate pero ang pagdedebate po ay dalawang bagay, di ba po? Sino ba ang responsable sa pagkawala ng Scarborough Shoal?” Roque said.

“Ang subject matter po ng debate ay sino at anong administrasyon ang naging dahilan kung kailan nawala sa Pilipinas ang possession sa Scarborough Shoal,” he further stated.

Roque also said that he would also ask Carpio during the debate on who was responsible and under what administration did the Philippines lost possession of the Mischief Reef.

“Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, it would be a pleasure to debate against you. I’ll see you at the designated time and place,” he said, addressing Carpio.

Duterte, Saudi Arabia crown prince discuss OFW protection – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   May 7, 2021

File photo: President Rodrigo Duterte and Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte and Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud discussed ways to strengthen protection for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the Middle Eastern country during a phone call on Wednesday night, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Thursday that the two leaders talked about the welfare of the OFWs in Saudi Arabia and the ways to protect their rights.

“Ang paguusap po ay nakasentro kung paano pa mapapalakas ang proteksyon na ibibigay sa mga manggagawang Pilipino na nasa Saudi Arabia,” he said.

The two leaders also discussed changes to the kafala system, which requires a migrant worker to have a sponsor in their host country to secure a visa and worker’s permit.

During the phone conversation, Duterte and the Saudi crown prince also tackled cooperation in battling the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the importance of establishing a system to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

“Pinagusapan din po nila na sa panahon ng pandemya, kinakailangan magkaroon po talaga ng sistema na lahat po ng bansa sa daigdig, mahirap o mayaman, ay dapat magkaroon po ng bakuna. Dahil kung hindi naman po ligtas ang lahat, wala pong ligtas dito sa pandemyang ito,” Roque said.

 

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