Lawmaker hits DA over importation of galunggong
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Tolentino on Tuesday called out the Department of Agriculture (DA) for allowing the importation of 45,000 metric tons of galunggong (round scad) despite earlier assurance of sufficient stock.
“Exactly 34 days ago, sinabi mo sa budget hearing na 98.5 percent ang ating round scad pero bakit ngayon nag import na tayo ng galunggong? Tayo pa naman ang may fifth largest shoreline sa mundo,” Tolentino told Agriculture Secretary William Dar on during the deliberations of a panel of the Commission on Appointments (CA).
(Exactly 34 days ago, you said during the budget hearing that the supply of our round scad is at 98.5 percent but why are we importing them now? Considering that we have the fifth largest shoreline in the world).
Dar’s ad interim appointment as agriculture chief is up for confirmation.
Tolentino was referring to Dar’s statement during a Senate hearing on DA’s proposed national budget last November 13.
Tolentino further pointed out that, despite the recent importation, the prices of the galunggong remained high.
“Prior to the importation, as of November 27, 2019, the retail price of round scad or galunggong (round scad) is P220 pero (but) after the importation, P320 na ang retail price. Nagmahal pa ang presyo (The price increased),” he said.
Tolentino further bewailed the lack of recent existing data which could have been the basis for the recent decision to import.
“How could you say that we need to import galunggong (round scad) in the first place if we don’t know how much is our total allowable catch or maximum sustainable yield, as required by law?” he said
Last December 5, the DA allowed the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to proceed with the importation of 45,000 metric tons of small pelagic fish, which includes the galunggong.
Responding to Tolentino’s queries, Dar said the importation of round scad was recommended by a group of stakeholders within BFAR.
“The importation is borne out that there is increasing tightness of the supply as we come towards the last quarter,” he said.
Dar added that the volume of importation in the previous years was higher than this year’s.
“If we just have to compare yung importation natin po sa (our importation in) previous years, it’s always 120,000 to 150,000 (metric tons) in previous years, so this time around 45,000 (metric tons) lang yung nirekomenda po ng committee na ‘yan (was recommended by the committee) which I approved,” he said.
“Let me mention that in areas where we capture galunggong (round scad) this is the season, they call it breeding season for galunggong so it is a closed season wherein we have to give respite to galunggong to breed and will be made available in due time in terms of harvesting or capturing,” he explained.
With the increase in prices of round scad, Dar said consumers have other options in terms of fish products.
“What we are saying is there are also other complementary sources, of say, protein sources out of fish like aquaculture tilapia, bangus, even fishes that are captured from open seas na hindi galunggong (that are not round scad), sardines and the like, so marami pong options naman ang mga mamimili kung sa isda ang paguusapan (so there are a lot of options that our consumers can choose from in terms of fish products),” he added.
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