Agriculture will shoulder pork shipment costs

The Department of Agriculture, confronted by rising prices of meat products particularly pork, said Saturday it would shoulder expenses in shipping pork products to the National Capital Region to augment supply and eventually reduce retail cost.

In an interview on Dobol B sa News TV, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Noel Reyes said the DA secured a commitment from hog raisers in General Santos and South Cotabato to supply Metro Manila with 10,000 hogs a week or 30,000 to 40,000 hogs a month.

Last month, consumers saw meat prices, particularly pork, rose by as much as P400 per kilo in Metro Manila markets due to supply constraints as the African Swine Fever decimated much of the hog population.

To arrest rising prices, which the DA blamed on unscrupulous traders and wholesalers who took advantage of the ASF situation, President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order imposing a 60-day price cap on pork and chicken in the NCR.

Under the EO, the price of kasim and pigue should not exceed P270 per kilo. The President also fixed the price ceiling for liempo and dressed chicken at P300 and P160, respectively.

At the same time, Reyes called on local governments to synchronize its policies on pork shipments with the national government’s so as not to further increase the retail price of the commodity.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, meanwhile, said unscrupulous businessmen taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic and the African swine fever emergency could face charges for economic sabotage.

A task force on economic intelligence has been created, headed by the DA, and the Department of Trade and Industry, to run after profiteers, hoarders, and smugglers of agricultural products.

The other agencies in the task force are:

  • Department of Justice;
  • Department of the Interior and Local Government;
  • National Bureau of Investigation;
  • Philippine National Police;
  • Bureau of Customs;
  • Philippine Competition Commission;
  • National Security Council; and
  • National Intelligence Coordinating Agency

In a statement, the DA said the task group would initially go after unscrupulous traders, viajeros, and wholesalers who have unreasonably increased the prices of hogs and pork, hovering at more than P400 per kilogram that persisted even after the 2020 Christmas season and despite reduced demand.

Rising pork prices and other food commodities brought the January inflation rate to 4.2 percent, its fastest in 24 months when it clocked in at 4.4 percent in January 2019.

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