Hog raisers and agriculture stakeholders have thrown their support for the adoption of House Joint Resolution No. 37 calling for the termination of Executive Order No. 128 issued by President Duterte to temkporarily reduce import tariffs on pork.
At least 15 House members have signed HJR 37 but authors representing the Makabayan bloc expect more congressmen to support its adoption.
Hog raisers and agriculture stakeholders issued a statement on the issue which they submitted to the Lower House and the Senate.
In the statement, they urged legislators to “repeal EO 128” and recall the move to increase by 350,000 metric tons the Minimum Access Volume on pork.
Signing the statement were Nicanor M. Briones of the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc.; Elias Jose “Bong” Inciong, United Broilers Association of the Philippines (UBRA); Rafael Mariano, representing Anakpawis Partylist and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; Chester Warren Tan of National Federation of Hog Farmers INc.; Antonio Flores of Unyong ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura; Leonardo Montemayor of Federation of Free Farmers; Joji Co of Philippine Confederation of Grains Association and Reggie Vallejos of SUKI Network.
“We strongly denounce the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) persistent reliance on imports in addressing the country’s food perils,”they said.
The signatories blamed Agriculture Secretary William Dar for recommending to President Duterte the issuance of EO 128 that will reduce tariff rates on pork imports from the current 40 percent to 15 percent out quota and 30 percent to 5 percent in quota for a period of one year.
The agriculture sector stressed that there is no need to lower tariffs because importers are already “making a lot of money” under the current tariff rates. “If import tariffs are reduced, the wholesale price for pork will go down and directly affect farm gate prices, but consumers will not automatically benefit because traders and importers may just pocket the additional profits, as what happened after the rice sector was liberalized,” they stressed.
On Duterte’s recommendation that MAV on pork be increased from 54,210 metric tons to 404,210 MT, the concerned hog raisers noted that this involved an “unprecedented 648% increase.” “There is no need to increase the MAV because there is already no limit to the volume that importers can bring in outside the MAV. Increasing the MAV while allowing unlimited imports outside the MAV is a double-kill that will only result in oversupply,” they warned.
They pointed out: “Unimpeded, the said order will drive the flooding of pork imports on the local market. This will bankrupt, beyond recovery, thousands of Filipino hog raisers as government support for the sector remains wanting.” According to them they had already sustained losses reaching P56 billion as a result of the African Swine Fever that plague farms in Luzon.
“Filipino hog raisers will be directly affected by the deluge of cheap imports at such a crucial time. Various types of laborers, from farmhands to butchers, will also be impacted as hog producers reduce operations or close altogether,”the signatories of the statement said.
They added: “On the other hand, the much-touted promise of cheaper retail prices is unfounded. “