MANILA - The Senate Committee of the Whole on Thursday adopted a resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to recall his order to reduce tariffs for imported pork and increase its minimum access volume to protect local hog raisers from bankruptcy.
At least 17 senators backed the resolution adopted during the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing, which reviewed the policy which would force local hog raisers to compete with cheaper, imported pork products.
"This can potentially spell the demise of our local hog industry, most of them what we call backyard hog raisers," said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who drafted the resolution.
Duterte's Executive Order No. 128 reduces tariff on imported pork to 5-10 percent from 20-30 percent in the first 3 months of its enforcement, and to 10 percent in the 4th to 12th month.
The order also increases to 350,000 metric tons from 54,000 metric tons the total volume of pork that may be imported to the Philippines.
The order was signed as the national government sought to curb rising pork prices and inflation due to the African Swine Fever, which hit several local hog raisers, affecting supply.
"The Department of Agriculture failed to establish through accurate and reliable data that the country will have 388,790 MT of deficit in the supply of pork for the year which necessitates the increase in MAV," according to the resolution.
"Such policy will only result in loss of billions of government revenue and the flooding of the market with imported pork," it read.
Drilon's resolution was co-authored by the following senators:
- Senate President Vicente Sotto III
- Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto
- Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri
- Sen. Sonny Angara
- Sen. Nancy Binay
- Sen. Pia Cayetano
- Sen. Leila de Lima
- Sen. Risa Hontiveros
- Sen. Richard Gordon
- Sen. Lito Lapid
- Sen. Panfilo Lacson
- Sen. Imee Marcos
- Sen. Francis Pangilinan
- Sen. Manny Pacquiao
- Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III
- Sen. Grace Poe
- Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr.
- Sen. Joel Villanueva
- Sen. Cynthia Villar
Should the executive branch fail to heed the Senate's call to withdraw the said policy, Drilon said he would file another resolution on May 17 to revoke the executive order.
Congress is currently on a month-long break and will resume sessions on May 17.
"If nothing is changed until May 17, then we take a more appropriate action to withdraw that delegated authority [to the President] of setting the tariff rates as far as the hog industry is concerned," Drilon said.
"We will propose to the Senate as an institution that we withdraw the power of the president because of the harm it has done to the hog industry," he said.
On Wednesday, at least 17 House lawmakers backed a similar resolution that would halt the implementation of the new tariff rates for imported pork.
Malacañang earlier acknowledged that the legislative branch has the right to revoke the said executive order as the President's power to adjust tariffs is "only a delegated power given by Congress to the President... pursuant to Sec. 28 par 2, Art VI of the Constitution."