Sotto to DA: Name ‘brains’ behind pork imports hike, reduced taxes
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Monday pressed the Department of Agriculture (DA) to identify the “brains” behind the reduced tariff rates and proposed higher volume on imported pork products.
Sotto said DA Secretary William Dar should name in the next Senate Committee of the Whole hearing the person or group who pushed for the signing of an executive order (EO) temporarily lowering the tariffs on pork imports.
The EO was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte, who also endorsed to Congress proposals to raise the minimum access volume (MAV) on pork imports by 350,000 metric tons from the current 54,000 MT.
“I want to know whose bright idea it was to hike the import ceiling and lower import taxes on pork. Sino nag-suggest nito from the DA? Bakit gusto nilang mag-import tayo beyond what is required and at the same time babaan ang tariff? Anong logical explanation dito?” Sotto asked in a statement.
(Who suggested this from the DA? Why do they want us to import beyond what is required and at the same time reduce the tariff? What’s the logical explanation here?)
Reducing the tariff rates on pork imports also contradicts Duterte’s assurance that the prices of pork and other food products will remain accessible to people especially at this time of pandemic, the Senate leader also lamented.
“I believe that the President intended the EO to assure our people that government is in control and that the welfare of our hog raisers, fishermen, and farmers will always be the priority,” Sotto said.
“This EO is supposed to be in line with the intentions of the President, but the end product is not. He would not have signed this if he knew that his order will have a negative impact on the hog and agriculture industries. He would not have signed this if no one lobbied for it.”
“Kung hindi man DA ang nagtulak nitong executive order na ito, then who pushed for it? Gusto kong sagutin nila ang aking tanong: Ang EO ba na ito ay para sa ikauunlad ng Pilipinas? Ito ba ay makakatulong sa mga Pilipino o sa iilan lamang na mga negosyante at politiko?” he further asked.
(If the DA did not push for this executive order, then who pushed for it? I just want them to answer my question: Is this EO good for the country? Will this help the Filipinos or just a few businessmen and politicians?)
Sotto earlier raised suspicion that the lowering of tariffs and the proposal to raise the MAV on imported pork had something to do with the upcoming 2022 elections.
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