By Billy Begas
House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Sunday urged Malacañang to “terminate or withdraw” Executive Order 128 that increases the allowable volumes of imported pork products amid the unanimous opposition of hog raisers and producers nationwide.
“Bakit ba palaging ang default reaction ng Duterte administration, lalo na ng DA (Department of Agriculture), ay palagi ang pag-i-import at hindi ang tulungang paunlarin ang mga magsasaka at lokal na producers ng ating bansa,” said Zarate.
EO 128 increases the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) of pork imports from 54,000 metric tons (MT) to 404,000 MT or a 648% increase.
“This staggering increased volume is even way above the domestic consumption needs. Babaha ang frozen pork sa bansa pero di naman nito matitiyak na bababa din ang presyo nito sa merkado tulad na din ng sinabi ng mga ekonomista. Bakit ka naman magpapasok ng sobra-sobra sa kailangan ng bansa? Sinong mga pinagpala ang makikinabang dito?” Zarate asked.
Zarate said the Philippines is the biggest importer of rice in the world “ngayon pati ba naman sa baboy at manok ay target din ng DA na tayo ang manguna?”
Aside from increasing the MAV, the government also lowered the import tariff from 30% to only 5%.
Zarate said thousands of Filipinos depend on the pork industry for their livelihood, and the closure of many producers who cannot cope with the negative effects of the MAV expansion and the reduced tariff will mean more loss of jobs and livelihood not only for the owners but also the people who work in the industry.
“These recommendations from the ground are already known to the DA and Malacañang, yet, it appears now that they only have ears for the pro-importation groups,” he added.