Senate probe on alleged ‘tongpats’ scheme in pork importation pushed

Robie de Guzman   •   March 16, 2021   •   672

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson is pushing for a Senate investigation into the activities of an alleged syndicate within the Department of Agriculture (DA) that stands to gain billions of pesos in ‘tongpats’ or kickback scheme from the agency’s proposal to lower tariff rates on and to increase the volume of imported pork products due to the impact of the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.

In a statement on Tuesday, Lacson said the alleged anomalies amount to a “triple whammy” as they not only threaten the local hog industry but raise health concerns and cost the government forgone revenues, as well.

“We should unmask who is/are behind this scheme no matter how powerful and influential he may be with this administration,” Lacson said in a radio interview.

“I want to see even a whiff of enthusiasm from the President to order the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and other concerned agencies to investigate, not to mention heed the call of the Senate to disapprove the DA’s recommendation to reduce the tariff and increase the volume of pork importation. Let’s see,” he added.

The senator said he already talked to Senate President Vicente Sotto III for the conduct of a Senate inquiry into the alleged anomaly and to get the documents related to the issue.

“So far, we have received documents from the Bureau of Customs and DA. Still, we need more data to get to the bottom of the anomaly,” he added.

Lacson, during Monday’s Senate session, revealed that there have been reports of certain individuals within the DA imposing a kickback scheme amounting to P5 to P7 for every kilo of imported pork.

With DA’s proposal to increase the maximum volume of imported meat from 54,000 to 400,000, the syndicate could easily earn as much as P6 billion a year, he said.

The senator said this practice has been going on for several years now. Citing as an example, he said that between June and October 2018, imported pork from banned countries due to the ASF like Belgium, Hungary, Germany, and China flooded the local market which prompted the issuance of a memorandum order by then DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

Lacson said DA Secretary William Dar should know or at least have heard of this supposed issue within his department, particularly in the MAV Management Committee, headed by Acting Undersecretary William Medrano and composed of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) – along with the “SOPs” in the allocation of quota to favored importers and the issuance of the Phyto-Sanitary Import Clearance (PSIC).

The Senate on Monday adopted a resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a state of calamity in the country due to the threat of ASF.

The same resolution also expressed the sense of the upper chamber to persuade Duterte to disapprove the DA recommendation.

Lacson called on the PACC to look into the alleged ‘tongpats’ scheme in the DA.

“Gusto kong manawagan sa PACC to conduct a motu proprio investigation to find out kung totoo ba na at current tariff rates ang sa volume 54,000 metric tons, kung may P5-7 tong-pats per kilo, dapat alamin natin ito. Kaya siguro nagpipilit na ibaba ang tariff at itaas ang volume. Kasi katakot-takot ang balak kitain ng mga sangkot,” he said.

P3B revenues collected from pork imports under reduced tariff, increased MAV system

Robie de Guzman   •   November 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has posted collections amounting to P3 billion from swine meat imports under a reduced tariff system, the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

In a statement, the DOF said that the BOC reported 197 million kilograms (kg) of pork imports from April 7 to Nov. 12 this year.

However, the bureau estimated that it has foregone some P3.4 billion in revenues as of November due to the decreased tariff scheme.

The reduced tariff system was implemented in the second quarter of this year to boost the supply of pork and stabilize its retail prices in the domestic market.

To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte had issued a series of executive orders (EOs) that took effect starting April 7 to lower pork import tariffs and increase the allowable import volumes of the meat to help stabilize the domestic supply and prices of this food staple for the benefit of Filipino consumers.

Executive Order (EO) No. 128, which lowered pork import tariffs to 5 percent within its minimum access volume (MAV) and 15 percent outside MAV for the first three months, was in effect from April 7 to May 14.

EO 134, which superseded EO 128, set tariffs on pork imports under the MAV to 10 percent for the first three months, and 15 percent in the next nine months.

For imports outside the MAV, the tariffs are 20 percent for the first three months and 25 percent in the succeeding nine months.

The one-year effectivity of EO 134 began on May 15, 2021.

“To compute for the effect of the two EOs, we multiplied the dutiable value of meat by 25 percent—less 5 percent and 15 percent—which were already paid for EO 128, and multiply the dutiable value by 20 percent and 15 percent for EO 134. The result showed a revenue loss of P3.4 billion,” BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said during a recent meeting with DOF.

Guerrero said the volume of pork imports started spiking in March and continuously grew in April to May, but dropped starting June.

The volume of pork imports in April, the month when the two EOs took effect, grew 500.46 percent, from 4.07 million kg in the same month last year to 24.45 million kg.

“This dramatic increase in pork import volumes continued in May, when a total of 36.5 million kg entered the country, representing a 506-percent hike from the 6.02 million kg imported during the same period in 2020,” the BOC said.

In June, the bureau said that pork imports reached 33.62 million kg, which was 531.39 percent more than the 5.32 million kg brought into the country during the same period last year.

“Pork imports continued its steady drop in July, when volumes totaled 31.18 million kg, which was 370.4 percent more than the 6.63 million kg, recorded in the same month of 2020,” it added.

The agency also noted that in August, pork imports increased 271.59 percent year-on-year, and dropped to 164.55 percent in September and 78.47 percent in October.

The volume of pork imports was 6.41 million kg in August 2020 and 23.82 million kg in August 2021; 9.73 million kg in September 2o20 and 25.73 million kg in September 2021; and 10.85 million kg in October 2020 and 19.36 million kg in October 2021.

From November 1-12, pork imports of 7.47 million kg were lower by 11.64 percent compared to last year’s 8.46 million for the same period.

Presyo ng baboy, posible pang tumaas habang papalapit ang holiday season – DA

Robie de Guzman   •   November 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Tumaas ang presyo ng karne ng baboy sa ilang pamilihan sa Metro Manila.

Sa ulat ni Aileen Cerrudo sa UNTV C-News, sinasabing umaabot sa P20 hanggang P60 ang presyo ng karne ng baboy.

Sa Mega Q Mart, nasa P420 ang presyo ng kada kilo ng liempo, P350-P360 naman ang halaga ng kada kilo ng kasim.

Sa Commonwealth Market, hanggang P320 ang halaga ng liempo at nasa P360 naman ang kasim.

Nasa P390 ang presyo ng kada kilo ng liempo habang nasa P300 to P340 ang presyo ng kasim sa Malabon Central Market.

Sa Munoz at Guadalupe Market naman, umiikot sa P360 hanggang P380 ang kada kilo ng liempo habang nasa P320 at P330 naman ang kasim.

Ayon sa Department of Agriculture (DA), ito ay bunsod ng kakulangan pa rin sa supply ng baboy dahil sa epekto ng African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak.

Ayon sa DA, posible pang tumaas ang presyo ng baboy sa pagsapit ng buwan ng Disyembre dahil sa inaasahang pagtaas ng demand kaugnay ng holiday season.

Pagtaas sa presyo ng gulay, asahan na dahil sa epekto ng Bagyong Maring

Maris Federez   •   October 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Umabot na sa 2 bilyong piso ang halaga ng mga apektadong agricultural product sa bansa matapos masira ang ilang taniman sa Northern Luzon dulot ng pananalasa ng Bagyong Maring.

Ayon sa Deparment of Agriculture (DA), nasa 42,000 magsasaka ang naapektuhan ang kabuhayan.

Dahil dito, inaasahang mababawasan na rin ang supply ng mga gulay sa National Capital Region (NCR), gayundin ang pagtaas ng presyo ng mga produktong agrikultura.

“Nakita natin ang paggalaw ng gulay dahil ito nga rin ay epekto nung nasalantang mga produce natin. Definitely, ‘pag nabawasan ang yield dahil natamaan ng bagyo ay tataas ang price points ng ating mga gulay dahil yung logististical cost ganun pa rin po and yet mas konti na ang nadadala sa merkado,” ani DA Asec. Kristine Evangelista

Gayunpaman, nakikipag-ugnayan na ang DA sa iba pang rehiyon para sa alternatibong suplay ng gulay sa Metro Manila.

“Basically we are augmenting from different regions po to make sure na hindi masyadong magalaw ang presyo ng gulay para na rin po sa ating mga consumers dito,” dagdag ni Evangelista.

Siniguro naman ng DA na patuloy ang  pagbabantay sa suply ng agricultural products sa bansa upang hindi maabuso ang pagtaas ng presyo nito.

Tiniyak din ng kagawaran na may nakahandang tulong para sa mga magsasaka na naapektuhan sa nakalipas na pananalasa ng bagyong maring

“Initially ang amin pong binibilisan para mapa-disperse na po at maibigay sa ating mga kababayang magsasaka’t mangingisda ay yung ating mga binhi at yung mga gamot para sa kanilang mga livestock, mga animals,” ani Evangelista.

Ayon pa sa DA, mayroon ding nakahandang zero interest loan ang ahensya para sa mga magsasaka na nais umutang ng pang-kapital. Kailangan lamang makipag-ugnayan ang mga apektadong magsasaka sa tanggapan ng DA sa kani-kanilang mga lugar. —/mbmf (mula sa ulat ni UNTV Correspondent Janice Ingente)

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