DA to look into alleged ‘tongpats’ on pork imports, but agency exec says nothing’s wrong

Published March 16, 2021, 8:48 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The leadership of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has vowed to investigate the multi-billion-peso “tongpats” or kickback scheme allegedly happening in the agency through the importation of pork.

“Sec William Dar has instructed to investigate the allegation,” the DA said in a statement Tuesday, March 16.

In the Senate’s plenary session on Monday, March 15, Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed the alleged anomaly being perpetrated by a syndicate that stands to gain billions of pesos from the department’s recommendation to lower tariff rates on imported pork products.

These imports have been sought amid the impact of the African Swine Fever (ASF) on the local swine industry.

Lacson bared that the syndicate inside the DA was bound to increase its payoff from the scheme with the proposed hike in the minimum access volume (MAV) for imported pork to as much as 400,000 metric tons (MTs) despite objections from local hog raisers.

According to the lawmaker, there were also moves to reduce tariffs to as low as five to 10 percent that would double the grease money for DA insiders.

In the same DA statement, DA-MAV Secretariat Executive Director Jane Bacayo said that the MAV allocation of licenses has remained unchanged even before the administration of D “The issuance of MAV allocation is above-board.

The allocations of existing MAV licensees are those they have been using even before the administration of [Secretary] Dar, in accordance with the existing MAV guidelines,” Bacayo explained.

Under the MAV guidelines, Bacayo said licensees who are able to utilize 70 percent of their allocation for the previous MAV Year will retain their MAV allocation.

“Thus, MAV licensees will always try their best to utilize 70 percent of their allocation so that they will retain their existing allocation for the succeeding year,” she added.

According to her, the issuance of MAV import clearance to MAV licensees is ministerial or non-discretionary on the part of the MAV Secretariat, adding that MAV allocations and licenses are “strictly non-transferable.”

The DA official further emphasized that these policies are strictly adhered to and observed under the leadership of Dar.