MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved an over fourfold increase in the importation of pork to augment the shortage of its local supply due to African swine fever outbreaks, based on a document that Malacañang released on Tuesday.
Fatal to hogs but not to humans, the ASF has spread to 437 municipalities and reduced the country's swine inventory by 3 million heads or 24.1 percent from last year to 2021, Duterte said in Executive Order 133.
The shortage of pork for this year is estimated at around 388,790 metric tons (MT), he said.
The President said Congress has not acted on his request to raise pork's minimum access volume (MAV), which refers to the quantity of an agricultural product that may be imported with a lower tariff.
"It is imperative to immediately address the current supply gap in pork meat, to provide consumers with adequate and affordable food, and to lower inflation," Duterte said in the order he signed on Monday.
He raised the MAV of pork this year be to 254,210 MT from 54,210 MT, "provided that the balance at the end of 2021 shall not be carried over to 2022.
Duterte earlier reduced pork import tariffs, a move that some senators opposed.
Sen. Kiko Pangilinan instead urged Duterte to declare a state of calamity that would allow local to governments to tap quick response funds to contain ASF outbreaks. The President on Monday heeded the recommendation.
Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson in March said an alleged syndicate inside the agriculture department would collect P5 to P7 for every kilo of the 400,000 metric tons of pork that would be imported under the higher MAV.
Duterte will look into this, his spokesman Harry Roque had said.