The validity of Executive Order (EO) 124, which imposed a price ceiling on pork and chicken in Metro Manila, will end this week, and the government and private sector have two completely different sentiments about its effectiveness.
For one, Noel Reyes, the spokesperson of the Department of Agriculture (DA), the agency that drafted the EO, believes the price ceiling was effective.
But United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA) President Bong Inciong doesn’t agree with him, adding that the possible extension of the EO 124 will further negatively affect the local livestock industry.
EO 124 took effect in February, imposing a price ceiling of P270 per kilogram (/kg) has been imposed for pork kasim; P300/kg for pork liempo; and P160/kg for whole dressed chicken.
On March 8, amid calls for the government to suspend the order’s implementation, Agriculture Secretary William Dar insisted that the government “will maintain the EO in the remaining days until April 8”.
The appeal to suspend EO 124 came from the private sector, which claimed that the price ceiling is detrimental to local livestock producers who found the price ceiling too low.
To recall, EO 124 was imposed as part of government efforts to bring down the meat prices in Metro Manila and nearby areas amid the shortfall in the supply of hogs, which are still reeling from the impact of fatal animal disease African Swine Fever (ASF).
In a text exchange, Reyes, who is also the DA’s assistant secretary for strategic communications, said his agency believes the EO 124 was effective and that Dar already “asked concerned DA officials to study SRP [suggested retail price] for major food items”.
“We believe prices of pork and chicken were tempered, preventing these to skyrocket to more than P400/kg,” Reyes told Business Bulletin.
Before the price ceiling was imposed, at least based on the DA’s price monitoring on February 4 to 5, the prevailing price of pork kasim stood at P350/kg. It is P380/kg to P390/kg for pork liempo and P170/kg to P180/kg for whole chicken.
Except for chicken, prices indeed improved the day after EO 124 took effect, with the prevailing price of pork kasim and pork liempo going down to P270/kg and P300/kg on February 8, respectively. A kilo of whole chicken didn’t go down and even went up to P190/kg.
Then a month later, on March 8, prices of these commodities returned to nearly their pre-EO 124 levels, with pork kasim’s prevailing price back at P320/kg, pork liempo at P340/kg, and whole chicken at P180/kg.
At present, on April 5, the prevailing price of pork kasim at select markets in Metro Manila stood at P340/kg to P350/kg, while it is P360/kg to P380/kg for pork liempo. A kilo of whole dressed chicken costs P130/kg to P180/kg.
It is for this reason that Inciong said the price ceiling wasn’t effective.
“It did not achieve the targeted price ceilings on a sustained basis. Pork remained inaccessible for most Filipinos. In fact, DA had to scale down the ambition of the EO by saying that it prevented a continuous increase to beyond P400/kg,” Inciong told Business Bulletin.
“Did it work? No. It has delayed the build-up of pork and chicken supply because of the distortions in the price signals. Both producers and importers have been in wait-and-see mode as they could not properly assess their risks. Extension? Then, the reckoning will be worse for the people down the line,” he further said.