No 'advocate' of zero-tariffs on food items in Cabinet as of now: Roque

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 09 2018 07:31 PM

MANILA – No Cabinet secretary under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has endorsed the implementation of zero tariffs on imported agricultural products to ease inflation, the presidential spokesperson clarified on Thursday.

This, after House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s “focal person” on inflation measures, Albay Representative Joey Salceda said that the President was set to issue an Executive Order on zero tariffs on such products, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

“Hindi ko po alam kung saan nanggaling iyong impormasyon ni Congressman Salceda ‘no. Pero ang pagkakaalam ko po ngayon may diskusyon ‘no at may mga pagkakaiba ng opinion,” Roque said.

Reducing tariffs is still a possibility but no one in the Cabinet said they would endorse zero tariffs, Roque clarified.

“Secretary Piñol says, it’s going to be war with domestic agricultural producers. At wala pong nag-a-advocate sa Cabinet ng zero [tariff] right now,” he added.

Roque said he verified the matter with the President's economic team. 

"They listened to the suggestion of former President GMA and Speaker GMA. But no one actually agreed that it should be done," Roque said. 

The earlier version of the draft measure to curb inflation included reducing tariffs on commodities such as rice, flour, corn, meat, and fish. Fish and meat were later removed from the list.

Arroyo has clarified that she was not in favor of reduced tariffs on meat to tame inflation. 

The removal of meat on the zero-tariff list could be the result of a "strong" lobby, Salceda said.