Sotto says to raise pork importation issues to Duterte when given the chance | Inquirer News
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Sotto says to raise pork importation issues to Duterte when given the chance

/ 08:03 PM April 17, 2021
Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III

FILE–Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III. (Henzberg Austria/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Saturday he will raise issues on pork importation to President Rodrigo Duterte when he gets the chance to meet with the Chief Executive.

In an interview with DWIZ, Sotto said Duterte previously expressed willingness to have a meeting with him and House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco.

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Asked if he will take this opportunity to talk to the President about the pork importation issues being discussed in Senate hearings, Sotto said, “Oo. Magpapasintabi ako sa kanya. Babanggitin ko kung okay sa kanya na i-take up namin.”

(Yes. I will ask him if we can take up the issue.)

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Sotto said he had also advised Senator Christopher “Bong” Go to inform him on when the President would want to have a meeting with him.

“The other day noong kausap ko si Sen. Bong Go, sinabi ko sa kanya, ‘Bong, sabihan mo lang ako anytime kung gusto ng Presidente makipag-usap kasi marami tayong dapat ipaalam sa kanya,” the Senate President said.

(The other day when I was speaking with Sen. Bong Go, I told him, “Bong, just tell me anytime when the President wants to talk because we need to inform him about a lot of things.”)

The Senate earlier constituted into the Committee of the Whole to investigate the food security crisis stemming from the African swine fever outbreak and the alleged “tongpats” scheme in pork importation of pork.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar earlier denied allegations that a syndicate within the DA was getting kickbacks for every kilo of pork that enters the country.

Sotto also blasted the DA for its supposed failure to deal with the ASF outbreak. “Matindi, hindi medyo may kapalpakan. Matindi ang kapalpakan (It was immense. Their failure was immense),” he said.

He added that there might be a need for the committee to hold a third hearing on the issue.

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“Pagkatapos ng third hearing, siguro masosolidify na natin kung ano yung mga dapat na aksyon namin. Meron kaming mga dapat galawin siguro sa mga batas, because alam mo namang in aid of legislation ‘yan.

(After the third hearing, maybe we can solidify our actions. We may have to touch up on some laws, because this is in aid of legislation.)

“For example, isa sa mga patakaran ng DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) at DA ata, magkasama sila, ‘yung ina-accredit na nila kung may mga kumpanyang mga ganitong nag-iimport kahit na five million lang ang paid-up capital pagkatapos daan-daang million ang pinapasok, ‘yung iba hindi namonitor. Hindi pwede ‘yun, five million paid up capital, napakadali nun.

(For example, one of the protocols of the DTI and DA is to accredit companies that import even if they have five million paid-up capital. That should not be, five million paid-up capital is so easy to meet.)

“Baka kung kakayanin, baka magfile kami ng isang bill to that effect na taasan natin (If we can, we may file a bill to that effect to increase the paid-up capital),” he added.

The Senate earlier urged Duterte to withdraw Executive Order No. 128 lowering tariffs on imported pork.

Sotto surmised that there was someone who urged Duterte to sign the EO.

“Unang una sa lahat, sinong genius ang nakaisip na gumawa nito? ‘Yun ang tinatanong ko, hindi naman nila nasagot,” he said.

(First of all, who is the genius who thought about creating this? That’s what I asked them and they failed to answer.)

“Pangalawa, sinong magaling ang nagkumbinse sa Presidente na pirmahan ‘yan. Pag nalaman ng Pangulo ito, ako naniniwala sa pagkakakilala ko kay President Duterte, kapag nalaman niya lahat itong na-uncover namin babawiin niya ‘yun or hindi niya pipirmahan yun sigurado. Matindi ang mga gumapang nito,” Sotto added.

(Second, who is the one who convinced the President to sign that. If the President knows about all we have uncovered, he will withdraw that or he would not have signed it at all.)

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TAGS: pork importation, Rodrigo Duterte, Senate, Vicente Sotto
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