Senator Francis Pangilinan on Sunday, July 18 expressed dismay that pork prices remain high despite the lower tariff on imports, saying the government should restore to its original 20 to 30 percent levels to help hog raisers recover from the African swine fever.
“It’s been three months since pork tariffs were reduced but pork prices are still high. Our local hog-raisers are still suffering. The promise of lower pork prices has not been fulfilled,” Pangilinan said.
The senator said he will raise this issue again once Congress reopens sessions this July.
“When Congress reopens, I will raise again my recommendation to raise tariffs on imported pork to original rates,” Pangilinan said.
He noted data from the Department of Agriculture (DA) show that as of July 9, the prevailing price per kilogram of pork ham was P340, while that of pork belly was at P380. Prices previously hit as high as P400.
Pangilinan said the P380 price is still high as before the ASF hit the local hog industry considering that the price of pork per kilo used to be only about P240.
“Let’s support the local hog raisers and give them a fighting chance. With our current policy, only the importers are smiling while Filipino consumers continue to be on pork diet because they could not afford the high prices,” he pointed out.
Last April, Duterte issued Executive Order No. 128 which reduces the tariff rate on imported pork within the minimum access volume (MAV) from 30 percent to 5 percent in the first three months and to 10 percent in the 4th to 12th month.
Tariff on pork imports outside the MAV was reduced from 40 percent to 15 percent for the first three months, then 20 percent for the succeeding nine months.
A month later, Duterte released Executive Order 133 modifying the tariff rates on imported pork products to10 percent for the first three months, and 15 percent in the next nine months. Under the new order, tariff for pork imports outside MAV would be reduced to 20 percent for the first three months and 25 percent in the succeeding months.
Executive Order 133 was released as a result of a compromise between the country’s economic managers and senators who had raised local hog raisers’ complaints about the tariffs set under EO 128.
Pangilinan noted that while the DA can boast of flooding the supermarkets of imported pork, it cannot be denied that the poor cannot afford them.
“The question remains: did touted government policy worked for the Filipino consumers and the local industry?” the senator asked.