Senators buck pork importation amid ASF


Senators strongly objected to the importation of pork as a means to address the African swine fever outbreak, saying there is already an oversupply of local pork products.

During the hybrid hearing of the Committee of the Whole on the food security crisis, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said based on the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, Filipinos consumed an average of 1.85 million metric tons of pork yearly from 2018 to 2020 while the average annual local production of swine during the same period was at 2.25 million metric tons.

Lacson, in calling for the recall of Executive Order No. 128, said lowering the tariff in the importation of swine products from 30 to 40 percent down to 5 to10 percent and increasing the minimum access volume by 350,000 metric tons from 54,000 metric tons would kill the domestic industry.

Lacson warned these would cause P3.6 billion in lost revenues for the government. 

“Mr. Chairman, the basic economic principle applies: when there is surplus in the local supply of pork in relation to the local demand, why are we importing? This, despite the appeal of thousands of local hog raisers against unjust competition with importers of hogs. The effect of EO 128 is ‘botcha’ or double-dead. Why? The local industry will die. The collection of tariff will also die,” he said. 

Senator Cynthia Villar, chair of the committee on agriculture and food, also found no need for the government to lower the tariff in the importation of swine products and increase the MAV.

She cited data submitted by Bureau of Customs which showed that majority of imports from 2018 to 2020 are offal (organ meats) with 5 to 10 percent tariff.

Since 2018, good meat imports under MAV was only around 30 percent and the rest were offal, Villar said.

Meanwhile, Senator Francis Pangilinan stressed anew the need to declare a state of national calamity to sufficiently address the effects of ASF.

The ASF outbreak, he said, has already affected about 68,000 hog raisers, majority of whom are small backyard farmers. 

He said a state of calamity declaration would allow the Department of Agriculture and concerned agencies, including local government units, to allocate more funds to combat the ASF’s massive damage to the hog industry, provide much needed assistance to local hog raisers and institute bio-security and disease-control measures as well as calibrate re-population for the private sector. 

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