Magsasaka Partylist Rep. Argel Cabatbat on Tuesday, May 18, decried the successive issuance by President Duterte of executive orders affecting import duty on pork products and rice.
Cabatbat said hog raisers and rice farmers are not in favor of Executive Order Nos. 134 and 135, respectively, and would only further burden the agricultural sector that is already reeling from a double whammy triggered by the African Swine Flu (ASF) and the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic., “Ang magkasunod na EO ay paniguradong karagdagang dagok sa ating mga ka Magsasaka at magbababoy dahil hindi nito tinutugunan ang kanilang tunay na pangangailangan. (The successive EO’s will surely add to the suffering of our farmers and hog raisers because these do not address their real needs), said Cabatbat.
EO 134 increases the tariff rates on imported pork, thus, modifying EO 128 that triggered a howl of protest from the local hog industry that had been crippled by the effects of the ASF.
EO 128 had reduced duty on imported pork within the minimum access volume to five percent for the first three months of its effectivity and ten percent for the next nine months. The previous rate was 30 percent.
On the other hand, EO 135 sought to provide lower tariff rates on rice imported from most favored nations (MFN).
Cabatbat said EO 134 may have adjusted the tariff rates provided under EO 128 but the hike was “too small” compared to the previous rates.
He said consumers will unlikely feel any effect in the prices of rice and pork even if imports will flood the market.
What is urgently needed is for government to resuscitate the local hog industry that continues to reel from the effects of the ASF.
“Malinaw na ang EO No. 134 ay patuloy na magbubukas sa pagbaha ng imported at magdadala sa lalo pang pagkalugi ng lokal na industriya. (It is clear that EO 134 will continue to open the floodgates for imported and will only result to further losses in the local industry),” warned Cabatbat.