Consumers are urged to keep on patronizing local pork amid the issuance of Executive Order (EO) 128, which will bring down the tariff on pork imports and will pave the way for the entry of more imported pork into the Philippines. 

On Thursday, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) Chair Rosendo So said he is “outraged” with the issuance of EO 128 and proceeded to encourage consumers to “patronize local fresh pork”.

A customer pays for pork at a roadside market stall in Mandaluyong City, Manila, the Philippines, on Sunday, March 14, 2021. (Bloomberg)

“We appeal to everyone, let us continue to patronize our fresh local pork. This is our fight for our heritage and culture,” So said.

The issuance of EO 128 is part of the government efforts to bring down the retail cost of pork – which has been rising over the last months due to a shortfall in supply – in Metro Manila and nearby areas.    

The pork shortage is mainly due to the prevalence of African Swine Fever (ASF), but it is also blamed on the government’s inability to support local raisers from Visayas and Mindanao to ship their hogs to Luzon.

This, since Visayas and Mindanao are not as badly hit by ASF as Luzon.
In hopes to augment the supply and encourage importers to import more pork, EO 128, in particular, will reduce import tariff for fresh, chilled or frozen pork to 5 percent from 30 percent under the minimum access volume (MAV) quota for three months.

The MAV rate will be increased to 10 percent in the next nine months. After a year, it will return to the 30 percent tariff rate.

For pork imports outside the quota, the tariff rate will be cut to 15 percent from 40 percent for the first three months. It will be raised to 20 percent in the next nine months and will be back to 40 percent after a year.

The President’s decision to sign EO 128 came days after asking Congress to also increase the MAV for pork imports this year by 350,000 metric tons (MT).

The issuance of EO 128 and the recommendation for higher MAV were both proposed by the Department of Agriculture (DA), the government agency mandated to ensure food security in the Philippines. 

For So, however, the entry of more imported pork into the local market will only push local raisers to permanently abandon hog raising, which already recorded more than P50 billion in losses since ASF first crept into the country’s backyard farms in 2019.

“The pleas of the whole agriculture sector, as well as the Senate and the House leadership, have fallen on deaf ears. There are no words to express the outrage and betrayal to the millions of hog raisers and workers dependent on the hog industry,” So said.

He also reiterated that any shortfall in pork can be imported at the current tariff level and MAV allocation without any additional burden to importers, as the current tariff rates already provide profits of P200 to P250 per kilogram (/kg) for importers.

As for Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) President Felix Tiukinhoy jr., the reduction of duties is indeed “for all importers” but he also said that local hog raisers can import pork if they want to.

“We enjoin the country’s hog industry to take part as well,” Tiukinhoy said.

“We commiserate with them as they continue to battle the ASF virus, which has wiped out a huge portion of their hog population. If they import themselves, they would be able to recover part of their losses and at the same time enable them to serve their network of pork dealers and ultimately benefit the consumers,” he added. 

Tiukinhoy also said Duterte’s decision is “a victory for the millions of Filipino consumers who have been suffering from the shortage of local pork, thus pushing prices to levels beyond their reach”.

“Meat processors and legitimate importers will benefit from this landmark decision, and this will allow us to bring back affordable value-added pork products to the market,” he further said.

The issuance of EO 128 came hours after Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the Philippine government will no longer extend the price ceiling on pork and chicken in Metro Manila, and will instead put a price cap only on imported pork that is set to enter the country.

For imported pork kasim, the suggested retail price (SRP) would be P270/kg, while it is P350/kg for imported pork liempo.

Source: Manila Bulletin (