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Bong Go urges Executive Department to issue EO imposing price ceiling on pork and chicken

January 23, 2021 - Saturday 11:01 AM by MDM

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Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has asked the Executive Department to step in and curb the rising prices of pork and chicken products by imposing a price ceiling. The continued rise in pork prices is due to supply shortages brought by the African swine fever (ASF) while chicken prices had been subject of some illegal manipulations by some opportunistic businesses.

“Umaapela ako sa executive department na pag-aralan ang pag-i-impose ng price ceiling sa karneng baboy at manok sa bansa upang mapigilan ang tuluy-tuloy na pagtaas nito. Marami po sa ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang mga minimum wage earners, ang hindi na ma-afford ito,” Go said.

“Kung maaari po, ang gobyerno na po ang pumasan sa mga problemang ito, huwag lang po mapunta sa ordinaryong mamamayan ang dagdag na pasakit ng mahal na bilihin,” he added.

The Department of Agriculture is also planning to increase the volume of pork imports and  augment local pork supply by tripling the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) to keep the meat prices in the country stable, with Secretary William Dar saying, “Kasama po sa plano at pinag-aaralan na namin ‘yung dagdagan itong minimum access volume to triple what is allowed. Ang allowed ngayon ay 54,000 metric tons isang taon,” during a Laging Handa briefing last Monday.

MAV refers to the volume of specific agricultural commodity, such as pork, allowed to be imported with lower tariff rate.

Go has expressed his support to the proposal of the Department of Agriculture to increase the MAV on pork, but added that appropriate legal processes must be observed to do this.

“Kailangan po nating bigyan ng pansin ang hinaing na ito ng ating consumers,” Go said.

Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, during the agency’s television program Konsyumer Atbp., also said that DA and DTI recently convened the Task Group on Food Security to discuss various trading issues resulting to higher prices of agricultural products. Secretaries Dar and Lopez met the group last January 14 after increased prices of pork, chicken and vegetables were reported in many public markets nationwide.

Notably, the country’s average inflation rate for 2020 settled at 2.6%, which is below the midpoint of the target of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. However, the faster inflation in agricultural products is due to lower production as a result of the damage caused by typhoons. The increase in meat inflation, on the other hand, is caused by the decline in production due to the ASF.

To address the issues on ASF, President Rodrigo Duterte has already issued Executive Order No. 105 which created the National Task Force on Animal-Borne Diseases. This seeks to undertake activities to prevent the entry of animal-borne diseases, control their spread and address other related issues.

Earlier, Go also lauded President Duterte for signing Executive Order No. 123 modifying the rates of import duty on certain agricultural products under section 1611 of Republic Act No. 10863, otherwise known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. 

The EO will further maintain the reduced tariff rates on mechanically deboned meat (MDM) of chicken and turkey until end of next year as a way to help curb hunger and prevent prices of said products from going up amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. MDM is a major ingredient of low-priced meat products largely consumed by ordinary Filipinos.

“This is most welcome and I support it. This will have a huge impact on keeping prices low by keeping the tariffs low and preventing any inflationary effect,” Go said.

He, likewise, lauded various measures to be implemented by the DA, which include barangay-based vegetable farming; intensified implementation of the “Plant, Plant, Plant” program covering crop production, livestock, poultry and aquaculture; urban gardening, such as Gulayan sa Barangay at Paaralan; improved agri-fishery production, processing, marketing and logistical support; sustained implementation of the joint circular on price control; increasing shipments of hogs from ASF-free areas of the country; prize stabilization on pork products; managing the spread of ASF through the Bantay ASF sa Barangay (BABaY); and ongoing swine repopulation program.

Go emphasized that the issue of rising prices must be addressed given the economic ramifications of the current pandemic and their effects on the lives of ordinary Filipinos.

“Kailangan natin itong solusyonan, lalong-lalo na sa panahon ngayon na marami pong mga kababayan natin ang nawalan ng trabaho. Walang pambili ng pagkain ang mga 'yan, tataas pa ang presyo, mas lalong mahihirapan ang mga kababayan natin,” he said.

Go has been prodding the government to prioritize three important aspects towards COVID-19 recovery: (1) address hunger; (2) acquire sufficient, safe and effective vaccines for all Filipinos with utmost priority to the poor and vulnerable sectors as well as frontliners; (3) and provide more economic opportunities through jobs and other forms of livelihood. 

“Ipaglalaban po natin ang tatlong importanteng mga adhikain na ito sa loob at labas ng Senado — ang pagsugpo sa gutom; ang pagkakaroon ng sapat, ligtas, at epektibong bakuna; at ang pagpapalakas ng ekonomiya at kabuhayan ng bawat Pilipino,” he said. 

“Tulad nga ng sabi ng Pangulo, no one should be left behind towards recovery,” he added.