MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday said that the Senate has no choice but to give a chance to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 128, which mandates the temporary increase of pork importations at lower tariff rates.
“First, the Senate has no choice since the reduced tariff rates and the increased in-quota MAV [minimum access volume] have already taken effect,” Lacson said in a statement.
Lacson issued the statement after Duterte asked senators to consider his order’s intended effects, which include addressing the shortage in swine meat, stabilizing the price of pork meat, and minimizing the inflation rate, as mentioned by the Department of Agriculture and the President’s Economic Team.
The senator also lamented the lack of inter-departmental consultation regarding the move to reduce tariff rates on pork importation.
“Kung meron lang sanang nangyaring inter-departmental courtesy consultation, since EO 128 is a consequence of a delegated authority granted by Congress to the President anyway, we could have given our input based on our own consultations and research,” he said.
Lacson reiterated that the National Economic Development Authority’s (NEDA) conclusion that demand for pork has not changed in spite of the pandemic is “flawed.”
“I had pointed out during the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing, the 50% contraction registered by the hotel and restaurant operations should easily affect demand since the pre-pandemic 8.2 million foreign tourists are now eating pork somewhere else outside the country,” he said.
“Thus, at 15 kilograms of pork consumption per capita as estimated would mean 120 million kilograms less pork. That should be substantial enough to consider when they came up with the 350,000,000 kilograms in additional in-quota MAV allocation,” he added.
Lacson said Duterte’s appeal “might as well be directed” toward the 80,000 backyard hog raisers, their families, farmhands, and all others now being affected by the EO, both directly and indirectly.
Duterte made the appeal after the Senate Committee of the Whole adopted a resolution calling for the withdrawal of Executive Order 128, which mandates that the tariff rate for imported pork meat within quota or minimum access volume (MAV) be reduced to 5 percent during the first three months upon the order’s effectivity, and to 10 percent in during the months four to 12.
For pork imports outside the quota, the order cuts the tariff to 15 percent during the first three months upon its effectivity, and 20 percent for the months four to 12.
The order also increases to 350,000 metric tons from 54,000 metric tons of the total volume of pork that may be imported to the Philippines.
Malacañang earlier urged senators to “revisit the EO in two months to assess whether the aforesaid intended effects have been realized/met.”