Palace: Duterte to look into alleged 'tongpats' scheme on pork imports

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 16 2021 05:44 PM | Updated as of Mar 16 2021 05:58 PM

Beef, pork, and chicken are sold at Nepa-Q Mart in Quezon City on Jan. 21, 2021, amid rising prices of basic goods. Labor groups called on the government to urgently raise the minimum wage amid the rising prices during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte will look into an alleged racket that would supposedly bring in up to P6 billion in kickbacks from the proposed increase of pork imports even as he still trusts Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Malacañang said on Tuesday. 

Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Monday 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 will be imported in the proposal to increase the minimum access volume (MAV). 

"Tingnan po natin kung may katotohanan iyan. I’m sure since nilabas po iyan eh paiimbestigahan po iyan ng ating Presidente," Palace spokesman Harry Roque said of the allegation. 

(Let's see if there is truth to that. I'm sure that since that was revealed, the President would have that investigated.)

"Bagama't kinakailangan talaga natin ng additional supplies, tingnan natin kung ito'y sa pamamagitan ng MAV or sa pamamagitan ng ordinaryong pag-i-import," he said in a press briefing.

(Although we need additional supplies, let us see if we could get that through MAV or ordinary importation.)

The MAV lowers tariffs to as low as 5 percent. 

The Department of Agriculture has submitted to Malacañang its recommendation to increase the MAV on pork imports to raise the country's stock, Dar said a month ago amid supply woes due to the African swine fever.

Media reports have quoted Senate President Vicente Sotto III as saying that Dar had "no business being DA [secretary] if he is not aware" of the alleged MAV kickback scheme. 

"May tiwala pa rin po ang ating Presidente kay Secretary Dar," said Roque. 

"Sa lahat po ng members ng Cabinet, we continue to work or remain in our duties for as long as the President has full trust and confidence in us. And ganoon po ngayon ang sitwasyon kay Secretary Dar." 

(Our President still trusts Secretary Dar. We, members of the Cabinet, continue to work in our duties for as long as the President has full trust and confidence in us. And that is the current situation with Secretary Dar.)

Video courtesy of PTV