House leader backs reduced taxes for pork imports: ‘We need it now’

Published April 13, 2021, 8:41 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez on Tuesday, April 13, said he supports the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) proposal to lower the tariffs for imported pork products, despite opposition by hog raisers in his constituency.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

During a virtual hearing in the House of Representatives in the DA’s program in Mindanao, Rodriguez, who represents the second district of Cagayan de Oro City, said that consumers should be prioritized amid the shortage of pork supply and spike in prices.

“Let me just inform the Secretary that I’m also supporting, inspite [of] the complaints of hog raisers of Region 10 who approached me, I support the lowering of the tariff because that is what it is needed now,” Rodriguez said, addressing DA Secretary William Dar who was also present in the hearing.

“We were talking about the consumers, so I told the hog raisers of Region 10 that when there is already an adequate supply, then we [will be] able to go back to the tariff that we have,” he added.

He further said: “We have to give government, Secretary Dar, that opportunity to help our consumers.”
Rodriguez allayed the concern of local hog producers and other stakeholders on the arrival of pork imports.

“The landed costs of these imported pork will still be higher than the local pork because of the expenses, of the high price abroad, because also of the ASF (African swine fever),” he added.

Dar thanked the House deputy speaker for his backing.

As recommended by the DA to address the shortage in pork supply and spike in prices, President Duterte signed last April 7 the Executive Order (EO) No. 128, which reduces tariffs for in-quota pork imports from 30 percent to 5 percent and out-quota imports from 40 percent to 15 percent for the first three months of its effectivity.

On the fourth to 12th month, the tariff will be raised to 10 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Duterte also supported the agency’s proposal to increase the minimum access volume (MAV) for imported pork by 350,000 metric tons (MT), from the current limit of 54,210 MT to 404,210 MT.

Several lawmakers opposed the move, warning that this could lead to an oversupply of pork in the country to the detriment of the local hog industry.