3 senators eye reso revoking Duterte’s order cutting pork import tariffs
MANILA, Philippines — Three senators will be filing a joint resolution to revoke President Rodrigo Duterte’s executive order lowering tariffs on pork imports.
In a statement Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he and Senators Francis Pangilinan and Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the chamber’s agriculture committee, will file the joint resolution.
“By law, the authority of the President to fix tariff rates while Congress is not in session can be withdrawn or revoked by virtue of a joint resolution,” the minority leader said.
Last week, the President signed Executive Order No. 128, which temporarily lowers tariff rates on fresh, chilled, or frozen pork meat “to address the existing pork supply shortage, stabilize prices of pork meat, and minimize inflation rates.”
Drilon cited Republic Act 10863, also known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, as the basis for EO 128.
According to him, the law empowers the President to raise, decrease, or abolish current import duty rates “while Congress is not in session.”
But the senator pointed out that Section 1608 (f) of the said law specifies that “the power herein delegated to the President may be withdrawn or terminated by Congress through a joint resolution.”
“EO 128 will kill the local hog industry, not the African Swine Fever or ASF. The irrational and drastic decision to increase the minimum access volume or MAV serves as a final ‘nail in the coffin’ of the local hog industry,” Drilon said.
Apart from the tariff reduction on pork imports, the President recently proposed in a letter to Congress that MAV be increased by 350,000 metric tons in addition to the existing 54,210 metric tons.
“Our local hog raisers suffered a double blow in the last two weeks and it is the duty of Congress to stand up for them. Hindi kaya ng maliliit nating hog raisers ang laban sa mga malalaking importers of meat products,” Drilon went on.
Further, he stressed that a “drastic decrease” in tariffs on pork products could result in billions of pesos in foregone government revenue.
Duterte issued the executive order in response to the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) recommendation.
However, Drilon claimed that the DA’s plan “completely disregarded” the livelihoods of thousands of local hog raisers.
The senator also challenged the timing of the President’s submission to Congress of a plan to raise the minimum access volume (MAV) by 350,000 metric tons (MT) on top of the existing 54,000 MT.
He noted that this recommendation was presented to the Senate and House of Representatives on Mar. 26, the last session day before Congress went on Holy Week break.
Congress will reopen the session in May.
Drilon pointed to Section 6 of Republic Act 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act, which states that “in case of shortages or abnormal price increases in agricultural products, whose quantitative restrictions are lifted under this Act, the President may propose to Congress, revisions, modifications or adjustments of the [MAV].”
The law, however, says that “in the event Congress fails to act after fifteen (15) days from receipt of the proposal, the same shall be deemed approved.”
Nonetheless, the minority leader maintained that the authority to amend, alter, or change the MAV is a legislative function.
Drilon believes that the plan to raise the MAV should have been presented when Congress was still in session to allow the necessary changes.
He added that the President should have requested a special session of Congress to address the proposal.
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