DA suspects manipulation behind spike in pork prices

Marje Pelayo   •   January 25, 2021   •   431

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) insists that manipulation is behind the surge in pork prices.

“Mayroon tayong sapat na pagkain dito sa bansa, lamang ay may nagmamanipula ng mga food prices,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

Dar noted that pork now costs around P400 per kilogram in major markets in Metro Manila.

He said this shouldn’t be the case even though supply has been tight due to the impact of the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak.

Dar said they will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte the imposition of price freeze on pork prices even for a period of 60 days.

He explained that the price of pork shouldn’t go higher than P300 per kilogram while price of chicken shouldn’t go beyond P160 per kilogram.

Dar suspects that traders and wholesalers manipulate the prices, thus the DA is monitoring their activities to hold them accountable as well as those spreading misinformation.

“Lahat ng mga entities, mga individual or mga organisasyon na floating the idea of a food shortage have to substantiate yung claims nila,” Dar said. 

“Otherwise failing to do so renders them suspect of collusion with traders and wholesalers. So huwag kayo mag sow ng panic among consumers and the public,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) fears of possible scarcity in Metro Manila as traders might think twice about bringing supply to the region.

“Siyempre kung yung presyo ng probinsya ay nasa P320 to P330 na ang retail price, bakit kailangan pang dalhin sa Manila?” argued the group’s president Rosendo So.

“Iyon ang problema. Alam natin ang majority ng stock natin galing ng Visayas, Mindanao,” he added.

They suspect manipulators are basing the price from imported pork, hence the spike in prices of locally-reared pork meat.

For Laban Konsyumer, a price freeze has proved ineffective in the past.

“We had 60 days price freeze and nothing productive came out.  Lalo  tumaas  presyo,” said Atty. Vic Dimagiba.

Dimagiba said violators should be apprehended — from traders to market vendors.

The DA assured that the government has allotted half a billion pesos for cash assistance to hog raisers affected by the ASF.

Likewise, another P1 billion has been allotted to fund the Bantay ASF program in barangays which covers the mass production of ASF test kits. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DA relaxes conditions for insured ASF-affected hog raisers

Marje Pelayo   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (DA-PCIC) has relaxed conditions for paying hog raisers for their losses under its insurance program for hogs.

This is in support of the Duterte government’s initiative to revitalize hog production amid the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic.

During its regular meeting on Wednesday (February 24), the PCIC Board of Directors approved the DA proposal to pay losses resulting from government-ordered culling or slaughter of insured hogs.

Likewise, the Board agrees to raise the payable amount up to 100 percent of the insurance cover or the total sum insured.

The move is expected to help encourage the raising of over 10 million heads of swine among commercial and backyard raisers. 

The stocks to be insured will be a mix of fatteners and breeders, including grandparent stock, among the commercial raisers; and fatteners and breeders, among the backyard raisers.

Backyard hog raisers currently receive free insurance, provided they are listed in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), the country’s database of bona fide subsistence farmers and fisherfolk. But they will be covered by the relaxed provision on indemnity payment and culling or emergency slaughter, the DA further said.

Moreover, the Board directed the PCIC to increase the number of backyard hog raisers to be provided insurance coverage, it added.

The agriculture department guarantees that these enhanced insurance policy features for the swine industry will remain in place until such time that the industry shall have stabilized or a vaccine or other veterinary solutions will have been developed for ASF.

Consistent with the DA policy, the PCIC will require commercial and backyard raisers to adhere to prescribed biosafety protocols, such as cleaning, disinfecting, and training in biosafety measures.

This protocol is contained in the DA Administrative Order No. 6, issued on February 6, 2021, entitled “Guidelines on the Implementation of the Recovery, Rehabilitation and Repopulation Assistance Program for ASF-affected and Non-ASF Affected Areas.”

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)

Hontiveros urges DA to focus on ramping up efforts vs ASF instead of price caps

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Risa Hontiveros has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to focus its efforts on preventing the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) instead of imposing price ceilings.

“The government should instead channel its efforts to bring credibility to testing, reporting, and responding to local outbreaks, among others. Hindi na nakakatulong ang ipinataw nilang price control (imposing price control is not helping), so let’s look deeper than the surface,” the senator said.

Hontiveros noted that the DA is already boosting local hog supply by distributing mother pigs and feeds to ASF-cleared areas, however, hog raisers still fear subsequent waves of infection.

Instead of repopulation plans, Hontiveros said the DA should also teach hog raisers preventive measures to protect livestock from ASF. She added that the price cap is making it almost impossible for vendors to recover from the “twindemic” of COVID-19 and ASF.

“Nakararanas tayo ng ‘Twindemic’ —pandemya ng COVID-19 at epidemya ng ASF. Kambal din ang dagok sa ating magbababoy na nalubog pa dahil sa itinakdang price ceiling (We are experiencing a ‘Twindemic’—COVID-19 pandemic and the ASF epidemic. Our hog raisers are also experiencing twin challenges due to the price ceiling),” the senator said.

Hontiveros also proposed to revoke the imposed price ceiling to help affected producers and retailers recover from their losses.

“Dumadaing na ang ating producers at retailers. Ilang eksperto na ang tumutol sa pagpapatupad ng price ceiling. Bawiin na sana ito para makabawi naman sa lugi ang ating mga kababayan (Our producers and retailers are complaining. Several experts have already expressed opposition to implementation of a price ceiling. It should be revoked for the sake of our fellowmen),” she added. AAC 

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