PH Competition Commission urged to look into possible collusion on pork prices

April Rafales, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2021 12:01 AM

MANILA - Marikina 2nd District Representative Stella Quimbo has urged the Philippine Competition Commission to look into the high prices of pork in Metro Manila.

"Sapat ang supply pero mababa ang demand pero bakit mataas ang presyo? Hindi talaga tugma," she said during the joint hearing of the House Committee on Agriculture and Food and the Committee on Trade and Industry Thursday.

She said this could only be explained by a possible collusion or manipulation within the supply chain.

"Nakalipas na ang anim na buwan, hindi pa rin bumababa ang presyo to August, 2020 levels. baka may sabwatan within the supply chain such that hindi mapababa ang presyo because there are anti-competitive practices within the market forces," Quimbo said.

A representative from the PCC explained that based on the data at hand, they could not see any irregularity.

"Based on the data, we find a lot of parallels that has been shared. Inputs on the farm, prices. There is no clear sign showing that there is something like that happening. we will update as soon as we find anything,” PCC’s Ramon Jeriel Sawit said.

Quimbo raised this concern saying that the President signed EO 134 lowering the tariffs of pork to bring in more imports that will help lower the prices of local pork, and yet the prices have still not gone down to significantly.

EO 134, set tariffs on pork imports under the MAV to 10 percent for the first three months, and 15 percent in the next nine months.

For imports outside the MAV, the tariffs are 20 percent for the first three months and 25 percent in the succeeding nine months. The one-year effectivity of EO 134 began on May 15, 2021.

EO 133, meanwhile, increased the MAV for pork imports in 2021 from 54,210 metric tons to 254,210 metric tons, provided that any unavailable balance at the end of 2021 shall not be carried over to 2022.

Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said in his report during a recent Department of Finance (DOF) executive committee meeting that importers brought in 24.45 million kilograms of pork in April, another 36.5 million kilograms in May, and 15.14 million kilograms from June 1 to 11.

Meanwhile, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) Executive Director Jayson Cainglet said there is no shortage in local pork supply, contrary to the Department of Agriculture’s position. He explained that the two EOs burdened local hog raisers without achieving the promised lower retail prices that will benefit the consumers.

"Walang problema sa supply. Yung MAV plus na yan naghahanap lang sila ng dahilan. Hindi problema ang supply ng baboy, madaming baboy. Pumapasok ang baboy and yet hindi nabibili kasi we’ve challenged per capita consumption. Madaming institutional buyers ang ngayon wala pa like hotels, restaurants, schools. Yung kakayahan ng nanay na bumili, dati 2 kilograms per week ngayon 1/2 kilograms na lang. Pero mataas pa rin ang presyo sa palengke,” Cainglet said.

The DA in its defense said it is difficult to pull prices of pork down because of other factors such as feed inputs and fuel prices that keep going up.

Hog raisers have been complaining about the price of corn going up because of rising prices of urea and petroleum products. 

These contribute to high production costs of hog raisers which make local pork expensive.

"Mahirap pababain ang presyo ng pork kasi 50% ng production ay feeds. Hangga’t hindi bumababa ang presyo ng feeds, mahirap pababain ang presyo ng pork,” Agriculture Undersecretary Fermin Adriano said.

Quimbo then said the EO lowering the tariff for pork imports may have been a mistake since the government lost revenues and yet did not achieve its target lower pork prices.

Because of the EO, the government lost about P3.4 billion from April through June in collection, according to the DA.

The House committees have yet to hold another hearing about the issue of supply and prices of pork in the country.