Lacson says higher volume of pork imports ‘deemed approved,’ laments ‘devious machinations’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s proposal to raise the amount of imported pork by 350,000 metric tons (MT) is already deemed approved as the 15-day period for congressional action may have already lapsed, Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Monday.
Lacson noted that Duterte’s recommendation to increase the minimum access volume (MAV) for imported pork was relayed to Senate through a letter dated March 26, the last day of session before Congress went on a Holy Week break.
“Following the provision of the law, the 15 days provided to the Congress to act on the recommendation may have already lapsed, and hence, the proposal to increase the MAV for pork is already deemed approved,” Lacson said during the hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on alleged anomalies in the importation of pork.
“Pray tell, Mr. President. How can Congress take plenary action when we cannot hold sessions since we are on recess? Did the President even attempt to call for a special session of Congress so we can act on this recommendation increase or adjust the MAV?” he asked.
Congress will resume its session on May 16.
“Granting without accepting that the recommendation was already in effect, is it not absurd that the policy, which will flood our market with imported pork, will not be a product of deliberations by the members of the two Houses of Congress, but rather, a result of devious machinations by those who want to trespass and usurp the power to legislate?” Lacson went on.
“This is not by any language mercy killing, Mr. President. Rather, it is ‘merciless killing,’” he added.
Lacson also insisted there was no need to raise the MAV from the current 54,210 MT since there is no shortage of pork anyway in the country based on government’s own records in the last three years.
“Bakit, ino-obliga ba tayo sa ilalim ng WTO (World Trade Organization) na mag-angkat ng kaukulang quota kahit hindi na natin kailangan?”
“We checked, Mr. President, mukhang hindi naman. So, can we conclude that it is only because of the penchant and whim of the Department of Agriculture to import that made them do it? Maybe the bigger question is why? Or, magkano?”
Lacson earlier exposed an alleged P6 billion scheme within the Department of Agriculture (DA) from the proposed MAV increase and lowered tariffs for imported pork products.
DA Secretary William Dar, who was also present in the hearing, denied any involvement on the alleged scheme within his agency.
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