ASF state of calamity ‘critical’ with pork tariff cut leading to P14B in revenue loss — Pangilinan
MANILA, Philippines — Declaring a national state of calamity due to the African swine fever (ASF) is now “critical” as the government stands to lose up to P14 billion in revenues for lowering the tariff rate on pork imports, Senator Francis Pangilinan said Thursday.
“Anywhere between P11 billion to 14 billion ang hindi mako-collect na taripa dahil binaba [will not be collected because of the lowered tariffs],” Pangilinan told reporters in an online interview.
On Wednesday, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 128 temporarily reducing tariffs on pork imports in a bid to resolve the country’s undersupply of pork.
“If they (government) really wish to address seriously itong [these] concerns ng [of the] local hog industry, the state of calamity declaration is critical,” he added, noting that such a declaration would allow more funding for the Department of Agriculture to address the ASF outbreak.
“Dito sa EO 128, sana isinabay nila yung state of calamity declaration,” he said.
(In issuing EO 128, a state of calamity should have also been declared.)
Pangilinan further said it saddens him that the appeal of local hog raisers seems to have fallen on deaf ears following Duterte’s executive order.
“Ang nakakalungkot dito…yung daing nung mahihirap nating magbababoy, yun daing ng sektor ay hindi binigyan ng pansin,” he also said.
(What’s saddening here is that the appeal of our poor hog raisers, the appeal of the sector, was not considered.)
The tariff revenue that would have collected if not for lowering pork import tariffs could have also been used to assist local hog raisers in recovering from the effects of the ASF outbreak, according to Pangilinan.
He further said that while he is not against pork importation, the lowering tariff rates could be prone to abuse.
“Hindi naman tayo tutol sa pork importation, considering the shortage, ang ating agam-agam ay baka abusuhin…baka may magsasamantala,” he said.
(We are not against pork importation, considering the shortage, what we are wary about is that there may be abuse, there could be people who would take advantage of this.)
“Kapag ganun, ang pinaka tatamaan dito ay yung maliliit na magbababoy at yung mga nagnanasang bumaba talaga ang presyo ng karne ng baboy dahil dati,” he added.’
(If that happens, our small-time hog raisers will suffer as well as those who really want pork meat prices to drop.)
Senator Risa Hontiveros, for her part, expressed opposition to the reduction of tariff rates on pork imports.
“We need to be sending signals of hope for our hog-raisers. We don’t want the government slaughtering off the industry now, in tandem with the ASF,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“It is very disappointing that Malacanang decided to lower tariffs on imported pork to allow for even more pork imports. Clearly, hog revival is not part of its plan. Sa lagay na ito, parang tinalikuran at sinukuan na ang mga lokal nating magbababoy [With this, it felt like we turned our back on the local hog industry],” she said.
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