Lacson bares P6B ‘tongpats’ scheme in pork importation | Inquirer News
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Lacson bares P6B ‘tongpats’ scheme in pork importation

By: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 06:59 PM March 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Monday (March 15) revealed what he said was a racket within the Department of Agriculture (DA) that would bring in as much as P6 billion in kickbacks from the proposal to increase the volume of imported pork products and reduce tariff with African swine fever infestation as a smokescreen.

According to Lacson, a syndicate inside the DA was bound to increase its payoff from the “tongpats”, or kickback, scheme with the proposed increase in the minimum access volume (MAV) for imported pork to as much as 400,000 metric tons, and the reduction in tariffs to as low as 5 percent.

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“What is happening is really disgusting, because I wonder if these people have the conscience, that while we are in the middle of a pandemic, aggravated by the ASF, they can muster the nerve to earn billions,” he said.

Lacson made the disclosure during his interpellation on a proposed resolution urging Malacañang to reject the DA’s recommendation to reduce tariff and increase the allocation for imported meat.

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A proposed resolution is also asking Malacañang to declare a public emergency, to allow the DA to realign funds to address ASF infestation, mainly in the form of fund assistance to affected hog growers.

Citing “insider” information, Lacson said the syndicate supposedly collects anywhere from P5 to P7 a kilo from imported meat under the prevailing tongpats system in the DA.

With DA’s proposal to increase the maximum volume of imported meat from 54,000 kilos to 400,000, the syndicate could “easily” earn as much as P6 billion a year, he said.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan backed Lacson’s revelation that the move to reduce tariffs and increase the MAV was being pushed by a few people in the DA in cahoots with “a small number” of importers who have supposedly cornered import privileges.

“We have reports that the import permits rotate around those few importers,” he said.

Lacson urged the Senate to pass a resolution calling on the Presidential Anti Corruption Commission (PACC) to investigate the alleged money-making scheme in the importation of meat.

He also asked the Senate to conduct an inquiry into the alleged anomaly on the importation of meat, including the alleged “undervaluation” of meat products to pave the way for lower tariff on imported pork.

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TAGS: ASF, DA, importation, kickbacks, Lacson, Pork, scheme, tariff
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