Senate sees passage of joint resolution to invalidate tariff cut on pork imports

Published April 14, 2021, 2:24 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The Senate will prioritize the adoption of the joint resolution that would revoke President Duterte’s order reducing the tariff rates for imported pork for a year.

(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said this on Wednesday, April 14, as he expressed support for the plan for Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Cynthia Villar and Francis Pangilinan to file a joint resolution seeking to invalidate Executive Order No. 128.

Drilon, a former justice secretary and Senate president, said that under the Republic Act No.10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, “the authority of the President to fix tariff rate while Congress is not session can be withdrawn or revoked by virtue of a joint resolution”.

Congress is currently in recess and will resume sessions in May.

The same law was Duterte’s basis for the issuing the EO No. 128, which lowers the tariff from 30 percent to five percent for in-quota imports, and from 40 percent to 15 percent for out-quota imports.

Sotto said the upper chamber will pursue the plan to reverse the EO, even as Presidential spokesman Harry Roque floated on Monday the possibility that Duterte could veto the measure.

“No harm in trying. At least we did our part,” he told the Manila Bulletin in a message.

“If the move of the DA results in a debacle, then we can never be blamed,” Sotto stressed.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto also said he hopes Duterte will heed the call of senators against the reduced tariffs.

“I support the resolution. We should support our local hog industry. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos depend on it including family members. The multiplier effect on the economy is much greater than just importing hogs,” said Recto, who was a former socio-economic planning secretary.

“It’s also a health and security issue. We don’t have the ability of testing meat products,” he added.

Drilon said he is now crafting the measure to be filed next week. He said that aside from Villar and Pangilinan, he will also solicit the support of his other colleagues in the Senate “to make it a bipartisan measure and assure its passage.”

Senator Grace Poe said she, too, will support the Drilon resolution.

Lawmakers and hog raisers have been opposed to the huge reduction of the tariffs, fearing that it will cause an oversupply of pork to the disadvantage of the local swine industry.

Aside from the easing the import duties, Duterte also pushed the increase of the minimum access volume (MAV) for pork imports by 350,000 metric tons.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) maintained its position that importation is necessary to fill the supposed lack in the country’s pork supply.