Imee seeks Senate probe on bid to abolish MAV system on agriculture imports

Published May 7, 2021, 5:48 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Imee R. Marcos on Friday filed a Senate resolution to investigate whether there is need to abolish minimum access volume (MAV) system on imports to protect the agriculture sector.

Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate economic affairs committee, made the move after expressing her gratitude over the recent ‘’acceptable compromise’’ made by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez on Executive Order 128.

The compromise, proposed by Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chairwoman of the Senate agriculture committee, saw the reduction of 404,000 metric tons of imported pork to 254,000 metric tons and a reduction by almost one half of the tariff rates.

The compromise requires congressional approval.

‘’Sana gamitin natin ang pagkakataong ito na maisaayos ang magulo at baluktot na sistema ng food importation sa ating bansa- bigas man o mais, baboy, manok o isda, asukal, gulay, xmas goodies and fruits (I hope that we use this opportunity to revise our confused and crooked system of food importation be they rice, corn, pork, poultry, fish, sugar, Christmas goodies and fruits),’’ Marcos told Senate reporters.

‘’Paulit- ulit na lamang ang mga bulok na raket dyan, nakakayamot na. (Repeated rotten rackets is very unnerving)! Tas nagpapasok pa ng sakit at peste, wala pa rin tayong kadala- dala. (Then these imports bring in pests and sickness. We don’t learn),’’ she added.

‘’So I am calling for a thorough investigation of the MAV regime in particular and food importation in general- so we can, once and for all, expunge agricultural sabotage and exploitation from our ever- imperilled food supply!),’’ she stressed.

The Marcos resolution stated that ‘’there have been allegations of corruption and lack of transparency in the implementation of the MAV in the Department of Agriculture (DA), particularly with regard to the allocation of import certificates under the in-quota MAV, which have had destabilizing effects on the supply and prices of certain agricultural commodities, particularly pork and poultry products.’’

Excerpts of the Marcos resolution follow:

‘’WHEREAS, in the first quarter of 2021, the DA recommended to the President of the Philippines to increase the MAV on pork imports to raise the country’s stock amid supply woes due to the ASF which is expected to allegedly result in pork importers without MAV allocations to resort to technical smuggling to compete with the consequent drop in prices.

‘’WHEREAS, the Tariff Commission (TC) has launched an investigation to determine the merits of increasing the tariff on pork imports to as high as 44 percent. The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) claimed that “importers are raking in profits at the current tariff rate with no corresponding reflection on the retail price of prime pork cuts”;

‘’WHEREAS, according to a data from the Bureau of Customs, the landed cost of pork belly and kasim was priced at only P81 per kilogram from January 2020 to 2021. However, the importers are allegedly making P200 to P250 per kilogram as pork belly and kasim retail for P350 to P400 per kilogram;

‘’WHEREAS, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) released a study that the increase in MAV on pork will result in projected pork prices of P215 to P220 per kilogram, which is significantly lower than the total production cost of the local industry at P300, which, in effect, will kill the local hog industry;

‘’WHEREAS, the entry of more imported pork in the local market will only push local hog raisers to permanently abandon hog raising which already recorded more than P50 billion in losses since ASF (African Swine Flu) first crept in the country in 2019;

‘’WHEREAS, there is a need to review the DA’s implementation of the MAV and R.A. No. 8178 and to determine the viability of other modes of granting MAV allocations, as well as the financial and socio-economic effects that the deregulation and further liberalization of the importation of other agricultural products and/or the abolishment of the MAV would have on the Philippine agricultural industry.’’