MANILA - Malacañang on Tuesday said it is up to the country's lawmakers if they want to revoke Executive Order No. 128, which modifies the tariffs on imported pork.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte respects the call of some lawmakers to revoke the EO, adding it is within their power to make changes on it.
"In the event that our lawmakers decide to reverse EO No 128 lowering the tariff on imported pork, such action is within the legislative power of our lawmakers," Roque said in a statement.
"EO No 128 lowering the tariff of imported pork is only a delegated power given by Congress to the President to impose tariff rates, imports or exports pursuant to Sec. 28 par 2, Art VI of the Constitution. Hence, Congress may, by law, impose limitations on such delegated power or may reverse the same," he added.
Although Duterte can veto any particular item should Congress pass another bill on import tariffs, noted Roque.
The Presidential spokesman said the executive branch is open to working with lawmakers to discuss the issue so as to protect the interest of consumers and local hog raisers.
Duterte last week reduced pork import tariffs as the Philippines— the world's seventh biggest pork importer— sought to import some 400,000 tons of the meat this year to augment the shortage of supply due to African Swine Fever outbreaks.
Several senators earlier said they were "disappointed" over Duterte's decision to cut pork tariffs to address a supply shortage in country.
The minimum access volume (MAV) could have been raised instead of lowering tariffs, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday said he and 2 other senators would file a joint resolution to invalidate Duterte's order to impose lower tariffs on imported pork in the next 12 months.
CERTIFIED AS URGENT
Meanwhile, Duterte certified as urgent Senate Bills No. 2094, 1156 and 1840, all dealing with investment liberalization in the country.
SB 2094, or Amending the Public Service Act, aims to provide a clear definition of public utility in the sectors of electricity, transmission of electricity and water distribution and sewerage systems.
SB 1156, or the Foreign Investments Act, seeks to amend the 1996 Foreign Investments Act, and to form an "Investments Promotion Council" composed of different government agencies with the goal of encouraging foreign investments in the country.
SB 1840, or the Retail Trade Liberation Act, will remove barriers to foreign investments in the local retail sector, amending Republic Act 8762, or the Retail Trade Liberalization Act of 2000.
According to Roque, the said bills are part of Duterte's reform agenda and by certifying these as urgent, the President aims to spur the country's economic growth by "creating a business climate attractive to foreign investments while providing livelihood opportunities to our countrymen."
The House of Representatives had passed its version of all three bills, while the Senate has yet to finally decide on its version of the proposed measures.