While she welcomed President Duterte’s reported appeal to lawmakers to give the reduced tariffs a chance, Senator Risa Hontiveros maintained that a “better” move will be to recall his order to prevent its impacts to the local hog industry.
In a statement, Hontiveros said it was a “good” development that Malacañang supposedly seemed to be having second thoughts about the Executive Order No. 128, which lowers the duties of imported pork products for a year.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte asked members of the Senate to give EO No. 128 a chance, assuring them that the order will be revisited in two months to assess whether or not its intention to reduce market prices and augment local supply is met.
“Pero mas mainam siguro na i-atras na lang ito nang tuluyan at huwag nang hintayin pa ang dalawang buwan para lang patunayan na ang ating mga magbababoy ang mapupuruhan (But maybe it would be better to rescind this entirely and not wait for two months to prove that our hog raisers will be adversely affected),” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“Hindi sila makakabawi sa kanilang kapital at mataas na gastusin dahil pabababain ng umiiral na EO ang presyo ng baboy (They will not be able to recoup their capital and their expenses because the existing EO will reduce the prices of pork),” she pointed out.
Hontiveros argued that the government need not rush into importation since adequate first border inspection facilities that would screen products from African swine fever (ASF) have yet to be established, an issue raised by senators during the Senate Committee of the Whole hearings.
“Baka mas dapat magmadali sa pagliligtas sa ating lokal na industriyang dapang-dapa na dahil sa ASF (Maybe we should rush instead on rescuing our local industry that has been suffering due to the ASF outbreak),” she said.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, for his part, said the instead of just appealing to the Senate to give the EO a chance, he said “Malacañang should dialogue with and listen to the hog raisers so it can get a better idea regarding the Senate’s position.”
Last April 15, the Senate Committee of the Whole adopted a resolution calling for the recall of Duterte’s EO 128. The committee also asked Duterte to withdraw his recommendation to increase the minimum access volume (MAV) of pork imports by 350,000 metric tons.
Senators feared that the policies, if implemented simultaneously, will kill the local hog industry and result in billions of lost government revenues.