“I am recommending that the Senate convene into a Committee of the Whole to handle the investigation. The ‘tongpats’ mess has an impact on foregone revenue and corruption, food security, and health,” Lacson said in filing Resolution No. 685.
He said the COW is best suited to conduct the probe instead of having the Blue Ribbon Committee and the Committees on Agriculture, Ways and Means, and Health handle it separately.
“My resolution seeking the investigation in aid of legislation may also seek to revisit Republic Act 10611 or the Food Security Act of 2013 to address possible loopholes that are being exploited,” Lacson added.
The senator earlier disclosed that a syndicate operating within the DA stands to gain billions of pesos from the department’s recommendation to lower tariff rates on imported pork production and increase the minimum access volume to augment local supply amid the African swine fever outbreak in the country.
The anomalies, Lacson said, will amount to a triple whammy that threatens to kill the domestic hog industry, raises health concerns and costs the government forgone revenues.
Lacson said if the tariff for importations is brought down and the MAV is increased, the syndicate can jack up its “tong-pats” from the current P5-7 per kilo to P10-15 per kilo — easily earning at least P4 billion from the planned 400,000 MT allocation.
Lacson said backyard hog raisers are barely surviving amid the ASF crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
They will be adversely affected, Lacson said, if the local market is flooded with imported pork and pork products, including those imported from countries with an existing ban due to ASF.
“This practice has been going on for several years now. For example, between June and October 2018, imported pork from banned countries due to the ASF like Belgium, Hungary, Germany and China flooded the local market,” he said.
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