Monitoring of hog importation urged

To guard against profiteering in the billion-peso pork importation, Senator Francis Pangilinan said Thursday he will file a resolution for the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food to strictly monitor the implementation of Executive Order 128.

“ASF [African Swine Fever] is the root cause of this pork at ang pinaka-ugat nitong shortage. Therefore, pork importation is a stop-gap measure. Pero hindi tayo dapat maging adik sa pag-import ng karne,” said the former food security secretary.

Pangilinan was responding to media queries regarding President Rodrigo Duterte’s EO 128, which he signed Wednesday night, lowering the tariff rates for imported pork to address the pork shortage following the culling of hogs infected with African swine fever.

He made his statement even as Senator Imee Marcos castigated the Department of Agriculture for allegedly crippling the government’s ability to raise much-needed revenue to cope with the double onslaught of the ASF and Covid-19.

She accused the department of giving Duterte “questionable advice” that led to his signing Executive Order 128 on Wednesday, which increases pork import volumes and lowers the tariffs at the same time in a bid to reverse a supply shortage caused by the ASF.

“Aren’t we looking for more funding? Where is the much touted whole-of-government approach?” said.

Pangilinan considered as critical a State of Calamity declaration because, he said, that was how to provide meaningful interventions to support local hog raisers.

The resolution that Pangilinan is set to file soon will call on the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food “to monitor and exercise its oversight functions over the importation of pork under EO 128.”

“We will work to ensure that the importation of a million kilos of pork will not be abused,” Pangilinan said.

He spearheaded the call of the Senate for the swift declaration of a State of Calamity that would provide the Department of Agriculture the much needed funds to cushion the effects of the ASF.

“Panawagan natin ay aprubahan na iyong State of Calamity declaration para yung indemnification ng ating mga magbababoy ay magkaroon ng mabilis at agarang tulong. Iyon ang solusyon na dapat sana inuna,” he said.

Pangilinan earlier said that the government would lose P11 billion to P14 billion in revenues if the tariff rates were lowered. He said this amount could have otherwise been used to provide direct aid to ASF-affected hog raisers.

The local hog industry had lost around P60 billion in 2020 due to the ASF, with millions of pigs culled to curb the disease.

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