Senator Imee Marcos on Thursday castigated the Department of Agriculture (DA) for crippling the government’s ability to raise much needed revenue to cope with the double onslaught of African Swine Fever (ASF) and Covid-19.
The chair of the Senate economic affairs committee accused the DA of giving President Duterte “questionable advice” that led to his signing Executive Order 128 on Wednesday, which increases pork import volumes and lowers tariffs at the same time, in a bid to reverse a supply shortage caused by ASF.
“Akala ko ba naghahanap tayo ng pera? Where is the much touted whole-of-government approach?” Marcos said.
“We just threw away P11.5 billion of ‘ayuda,’ vaccines, PPEs (personal protective equipment) and ditched local hog raisers, all in one fell swoop,” Marcos said of what would be lost from lowering pork tariffs.
“The DA has assured pork importers of scandalous profits but has left the local hog raisers it is supposed to protect with a very sketchy plan? The P1.5 billion that the DA allotted to the livestock industry in its 2021 budget is measly, token support, knowing ASF has been around since 2019,” she added.
EO 128 supports a recommendation recently transmitted by the executive department to Congress to raise the minimum access volume (MAV) of pork imports by 350,000 metric tons (MT), or about 6.5 times its present limit of 54,210 MT, to total 404,210 MT.
Tariffs on imports within and outside the MAV are to be reduced from 30 percent to 5 percent and 40 percent to 10 percent, respectively, within the first three months after the EO takes effect, then raised by 5 percent each for the next nine months.