After Duterte plea, Senate probe on pork import issues resumes Tuesday
MANILA, Philippines — The probe of the Senate Committee of the Whole on issues concerning the food security crisis will resume on Tuesday next week after President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to give his executive order reducing tariffs on imported pork a “chance.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said among those who will be invited are officials from the Department of Finance, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Justice.
“I will convene the COW (Committee of the whole) on Tuesday… We lead by consensus. That is the sense of my colleagues,” Sotto said.
This was echoed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
“We endorsed Senate [President] Sotto’s call for another hearing on Tuesday, 10 am, to address the appeal of Malacañang to give Executive Order No. 128 a chance,” Drilon said.
Senators earlier urged Duterte to recall his Executive Order (EO) No. 128 lowering tariffs on imported pork, saying it will kill the local hog industry.
Drilon said he will attend the hearing on Tuesday, but noted that his objection to the executive order involves legal issues that have to be answered in the hearing.
“Is the increase in MAV (minimum access volume) levels ‘deemed approved’ due to the alleged failure of Congress to act on the President’s recommendation as provided by law, considering that we received the President’s recommendation only on March 26, when the Senate was no longer in session?” Drilon asked.
“Has the appropriate EO been issued to increase the MAV levels, even without the Senate being given an opportunity to examine the President’s recommendation? Note that the setting of the MAV levels is a function of Congress. That is why the President only recommends, which recommendation must be approved by Congress,” he added.
The executive order temporarily lowers tariff rates on fresh, chilled, or frozen pork meat. The reason for these tariffs is “to address the existing pork shortage, stabilize prices of pork meat, and minimize inflation rates.”
READ: Duterte temporarily cuts tariff rate for imported pork products
In addition to lowering pork import tariffs, Duterte also suggested, in a letter to Congress, an increase in MAV of 350,000 metric tons on top of the current 54,210 metric tons (MT).
However, a resolution earlier adopted by the Senate states that the authority to assess taxes is the legislature’s exclusive jurisdiction under the Constitution as they insisted that they have to be given enough time to study Duterte’s order.
“[I]t is Congress which authorizes the President to impose tariff rates, import and export quotas, tonnage and wharfage dues, and other duties or imposts and that such authorization can be exercised only within the specified limits set in the law and is further subject to limitations and restrictions which Congress may impose,” the resolution read.
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