DA issues tougher guidelines on acquiring rice import permits

Marje Pelayo   •   November 21, 2019   •   848

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) maintains it is not stopping the issuance of permits to import rice.

“Hindi namin pinapa-stop (We are not stopping the importation.) We are implementing the law properly,” Secretary William Dar said.

Instead, the Department made the guidelines stricter which include inspection of storage houses.

On Tuesday (November 19), President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the suspension of rice importation because it is currently harvest time in the country.

According to the Federation of Free Farmers, stricter guidelines of rice importation is similar to stopping the process.

But they argue that the measure is just temporary while rice exporters are completing their requirements.

“In the meantime, na hindi sila maka-comply tigil muna ang export nila sa atin (In the meantime that they cannot comply, they need to stop exporting to us),” explained the farmers’ group’s Chairman Leonardo Montemayor.

The DA, meanwhile, will investigate farmers’ cooperatives and organizations who are using dummies in order to proceed with their importations.

“We will now look at three years of their business engagements kung may financial capability ba (if they have the financial capability),” Dar said.

“Mayroon ba silang warehouses? So lahat po ng pag-i-igting na iyon (Do they have warehouses? So we will intensify everything),” he added.

Dar said the President also wants to increase the buffer stocks of the National Food Authority (NFA) from 15 days to 30 days.

This would require the agency to purchase more palay from local farmers.

The NFA was also ordered to sell not lower than 20,000 sacks of rice per day.

Likewise, the unconditional cash transfer for farmers affected by the decreasing price of rice brought about by the rice tariffication law will be also be expanded to three years. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Consumer group calls for transparency on alleged manipulation of pork prices

Marje Pelayo   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — A consumer group is asking the government to release the result of its investigation on the alleged manipulation of pork prices and supply in the country. 

Laban Konsyumer wants to put an end to the allegation of price and supply manipulation of pork in the country.

Laban Konsyumer president, Atty. Vic Dimagiba, said that if the result of the investigation proves that the price of pork is reasonable, consumer confidence will be regained.

Should there be no manipulation, the names of the businessmen would be cleared.

“Kailangan ang mga tao dapat managot kung may mananagot, whether private individuals or public officials,” Dimagiba said.

“Iyong nagkulang sa paggawa niya ng trabaho ay ilabas na at magsampa ng kaso kung meron naman. kung wala naman isara na nila yung imbestigasyon dahil mabalik din naman yung tiwala ng mga negosyante na hindi sila pinagsisishan ng pamahalaan,” he added.

The group also stands on the side of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the implementation of the price ceiling.

The DA said that the intervention is effective because it already decreased the prices of pork by P100 per kilogram.

“Sa monitoring namin meron pang nagtitinda P350 to P360 pero wala na yung P400 to P450. In effect the price ceiling is successful kasi marami pa rin naman bumebenta ng P270 to P300 na sumusunod,” explained DA Asec. Arnel de Mesa.

On the other hand, Manny Pereja, the market master in Las Piñas Market has filed a petition before the Supreme Court to stop the price ceiling.

“Iyan ang pinaka last resort na nakikita ko na kwestyunin ang Constitutionality ng batas na iyan dahil hindi naman nagre-reflect talaga sa tunay na estado ng ating bilihan talaga o nung hog industry,” Pereja said.

DA officials, however, assure that there will be enough supply in the coming days.

“Ginarantiya na meron na tayong enough supply tomorrow, 100% sa requirement nila,” National Coordinator of DA-Bantay Presyo Jerry Pelayo said. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DA to vendors: Sale, display of frozen meat products sans proper refrigeration facilities not allowed

Marje Pelayo   •   February 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has reminded vendors that it is prohibited to display or sell frozen products in public markets without properly- equipped refrigeration facilities.

This is pursuant to DA Administrative Order No. 6 Series of 2012 which emphasizes the rules and regulations on hygienic handling of chilled, frozen, and thawed meat in commercial establishments.

The DA explained that improper storage and thawing of frozen meat products, particularly in open public markets, presents a significant risk in the safety of meat products for sale.

The DA explained on the matter after the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) alleged Secretary William Dar as saying frozen is better than freshly butchered pork.

“Secretary William Dar did not say that frozen pork is better than fresh slaughtered pork,” the DA emphasized.

The order states that: “All persons or corporations, found guilty of directly or indirectly violating any provisions of this Order shall be subject to sanctions prescribed in Republic Act 9296, otherwise known as the “Meat Inspection Code of the Philippines” without prejudice to prosecution for violation of the Consumer Act of the Philippines and other applicable laws.”

Amid the current issue on pork and poultry supply, the DA through the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) continuously strive to improve the safe selling of meat, both frozen and fresh, in both public and private markets.

The DA, therefore, warns the general public not to buy frozen meat products if these are not stored in chillers or freezers.

DA to investigate alleged diversion, overpricing of pork supply

Marje Pelayo   •   February 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Reports have reached the Department of Agriculture (DA) that hog supplies from Mindanao supposed to be delivered to markets in Metro Manila are being diverted to other provinces.

This prompted the DA to conduct an investigation and identify traders who are not following the conditions imposed by the department.

“Paiimbestigahan natin ang nagtataas ng presyo kasi pinaka importante ang kundisyon ni Secretary (Dar),” explained DA USsec. Ernesto Gonzales.

“Iyong bibigyan ng subsidy dapat mag comply sa ating price cap at dapat din ay NCR ang bagsak ng baboy hindi sa labas ng NCR,” he added.

But traders are also having a hard time finding hogs with low farm gate prices.

The Manila Meat Dealers Association is requesting for a price ceiling on farm gate prices so that they would be able to sell it to vendors at a lower price.

“Dalawang araw akong hindi nakahakot kasi wala akong makunang mababa ang presyo nagtaasan sila lahat,” said the group’s representative Ricardo Chan.

“Pangalawa pa yung mga karatig-bayan yun ang kalaban namin mas mataas ang offer nila kasi hindi sila kasali sa price ceiling,” he added.

Meanwhile, officials of the DA and the local government of caloocan city inspected the pork vendors in Maypajo market.

They were found to be compliant of the P270/kilogram and P300/kilogram price ceiling for kasim and liempo respectively.

But they are still complaining of not earning enough due to the high price they get from traders.

“Medyo mabigat kasi di namin kaya ang presyo tsaka magkano lang ang patong namin dyan. pero wala din kaming magagawa kaya sumusunod lang kami sa reglamento nila,” said pork retailer Rene Beñas.

“Lugi kami dahil sa P250/kg. ang puhunan tapos benta namin P270/kg hanggang P300/kg dapat mga P220/kg man lang para ok na sa P270/kg. na benta,” added Jimmy Hernandez, also a pork vendor.

Caloocan City Mayor Oscar Malapitan said that they are about to pass a resolution to waive the vendors’ stall fee, like what they did last year when the pandemic started.

“Sinusuportahan namin sila. ang totoo libre nga yung renta nila. simula noong pandemya hanggang June 2021 libre,” Malapitan explained.

The DA said more shipments of hogs from Mindanao are coming this week.

“Konting tiis nalang siyempre tatamaan dyan yung trader. konting sakripisyo lang hanggang maibabalik na natin sa tama (yung presyo),” noted Jerry Pelayo, DA’s National Coordinator for LGU. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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