MANILA, Philippines — Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III directed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to watch out for traders who may misclassify pork imports once the new minimum access volume (MAV) allocations and tariff rates are approved.
During a recent Department of Finance (DOF) Executive Committee (ExeCom) meeting, Dominguez advised Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to prepare for increased inbound shipments to augment supply.
“Some pork importers may resort to technical smuggling,” Dominguez cautioned.
The BOC is a member of the new economic intelligence task group that President Duterte created recently to run after smugglers, profiteers and hoarders of agricultural products.
At a Senate hearing yesterday, senators warned the country is going to lose at least P16 billion this year and see its hog industry collapse if the government implements the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s proposal to raise the MAV and reduce tariffs for pork.
Sen. Cynthia Villar questioned the proposal and suggested that the DA look at collecting tariffs and using it to subsidize local hog raisers. She emphasized that there must be a balance between importers and local hog raisers.
In separate manifestations, Sens. Nancy Binay, Risa Hontiveros, Imee Marcos and Francis Pangilinan strongly opposed the reduction of tariffs as this would drive local hog raisers to ruin.
Meanwhile, Malacañang said yesterday that Congress has to act on tariff-related matters while it is in session, as the recommendation to import more pork at lower tariffs is already awaiting President Duterte’s signature.
“While it is awaiting the signature of our President, it has to be signed while Congress is not in session... Since while Congress is in session, it has to act on matters pertaining to tariffs,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
Yesterday, meat stalls in Murphy Market and Commonwealth Market in Quezon City were empty as vendors went on “pork holiday,” fearing losses they might incur if they sold meat with price ceilings in place.
Fifty meat vendors of Murphy refused to sell while at Commonwealth Market, no chicken and pork vendors opened their stalls, a report from OneNews said.
For its part, Consumer group Samahan at Ugnayan ng mga Konsyumer para sa Ikauunlad ng Bayan (SUKI Network) said that though they welcome any decrease in food prices, they also support the call of producers for new subsidies.
SUKI Network spokesman Reginald Vallejos said government should provide livestock and poultry raisers indemnification and support from the consequences of the African swine fever. – Catherine Talavera, Alexis Romero, Neil Jayson Servallos, Rhodina Villanueva, Paolo Romero