17 solons seek termination of EO reducing pork tariffs

Published April 14, 2021, 5:05 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Seventeen lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 14 have filed a joint resolution calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to immediately terminate or withdraw Executive Order No. 128 which temporarily reduces tariff rates of pork imports.

(Photo by Jansen Romero / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

In the joint resolution, the lawmakers also called for the rejection of the Minimum Access Volume (MAG) of pork imports from 54,000 metric tons to 404,000 MTs or an equivalent of 749 percent increase in the current quota.

“Tariff reduction and increased MAV of pork imports will further decimate the local pork industry as we know it and will also undermine our local production and food security, as what has happened to the rice industry,” they said.

The joint resolution was filed by Representatives Carlos Zarate, Rose Marie Arenas, Jose Christopher Belmonte, Arlene Brosas, Argel Joseph Cabatbat, France Castro, Eufemia Cullamat, Lorenz Defensor, Sarah Jane Elago, Edgar Erice, Ferdinand Gaite, Janette Garin, Rico Gerona, Jonathan Keith Flores, Edcel Lagman, Geraldine Roman, and Noel Villanueva.

They pointed out that thousands of Filipinos depend on the pork industry for their livelihood and the impending production stoppage of many hog producers who cannot cope with the negative effects of the reduced tariff and MAV expansion could mean loss of jobs and livelihood not only for the owners but for the entire workforce of the local hog industry.

“The further decline of the local pork industry will also affect many local allied industries, including poultry, corn farmers and coconut farmers and other such industries using or dependent on pork products will likely impact on the country’s agricultural development,” they said.

The congressmen argued that there is no assurance that such moves would stabilize or reduce the current high prices of pork meat products that have become unfairly exorbitant for consumers.

“The government must heed the demands and sincere appeal of hog raisers, producers and farmers against tariff reduction and MAV expansion of pork imports,” they said.

“It is also imperative to note that aside from the lowering of tariff rates, increasing or expanding the MAV on pork or on any of our agricultural products is detrimental not only to our agricultural sector, but also to the whole economy,” they pointed out.

The lawmakers said EO 128 would create an irreparable damage to the pork industry and to the agricultural sector as a whole.

“EO 128 runs contrary to the promotion of the general welfare of the people which is a fundamental principle in our Constitution. By this reason alone, EO 128 must be withdrawn and terminated immediately,” the House lawmakers reiterated.

At the Senate, three senators — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Francis Pangilinan and Cynthia Villar — are likewise pushing for the passage of a joint resolution that seeks to revoke EO 128.