Press Release
March 16, 2021

Senate urges President Duterte to declare a state of national calamity due to ASF

THE Senate on Monday adopted a resolution urging President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a state of national calamity due to the severe impact of African swine fever (ASF) on the local hog industry.

Senate Resolution No. (SRN) 676 taking into consideration SRN 684, which was principally sponsored by Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, also urges the President to reject the proposed reduction of tariff rates and the increase in the minimum access volume (MAV) of imported pork products.

Under the resolution, senators agree that "a declaration of a State of Calamity throughout the Philippines due to ASF will, among others, afford the Department of Agriculture, as well as local government units and other concerned agencies, ample latitude to utilize appropriate funds, including the Quick Response Fund, in their disaster preparedness and response efforts to address the ASF outbreak."

The resolution further states that "increasing the MAV and decreasing tariff, proposed ironically by the DA itself, would further derail the recovery of the hog industry, if not kill the local industry altogether."

In his sponsorship speech on the measure, Pangilinan said the failure to contain ASF has caused pork prices to remain at an average of P450 per kilo since January this year.

"Information that was relayed to us on the streets is that price per kilo is increasing P10 every week. And it has resulted in the loss of P56 billion for the swine industry that is over 70 percent backyard small hog raisers," Pangilinan said.

According to the resolution, "there is a need to convince and appeal to the Chief Executive not to allow the lowering of tariff rates on and increasing the MAV of imported pork products, as tariff is the only protection of the local swine producers against the influx of foreign commodities, and encouraging the Chief Executive to instead support the local swine industry on their road to recovery."

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform, stressed the urgency of adopting the resolution ahead of the anticipated policy announcement of the President after Congress suspends its session starting March 27.

Senators also took note of the concerns from the local hog producers, that as a consequence of the government's planned move, the local market will be flooded with cheaper imported pork products as compared to locally produced meat, thus causing further economic devastation to the farmers amidst the ASF and COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the total number of hogs culled as part of ASF containment procedures has reached 442,014. Private industry hog raisers estimate that around 4.7 million hogs are affected by ASF, equivalent to over a third of the country's pig stocks.

The DA, as a measure to address the increasing prices of pork and the estimated deficit of supply of about 388,491 metric tons, proposed to increase the MAV from 54,000 to almost eightfold or 404,000 metric tons and simultaneously lower the quota tariff rate by as much as 83 percent, from 30 percent to 5 percent if within the quota, and from 40 percent to 15 percent if beyond the quota.

PSN 676 states that pork importers, even without an increase in the MAV and the lowering of tariff, are already profiting by a significant margin.

According to a report by the Bureau of Customs, the cost-insurance-and-freight as of January 7, 2021 per kilo of pork belly is around P93.82. After the imposition of 30 and 40 percent tariff, cost of storage, approximate importer mark-up of P40, and retail margin, pork should retail at P206.36 at 30 percent tariff and P217.62 at 40 percent tariff in the market. Pork, however, still retails at P340 for kasim and P380 for liempo, or more than P100 additional profit per kilo of pork sold.

The resolution also takes into account the effect of flooding the local market with imported pork at reduced tariff to corn producers and feed millers as demand for the feed material could be dampened because of the downsizing of business of local hog producers, or the closure of their businesses due to losses.

"At present, the local pork industry needs the support of the government to repopulate the hog industry, as they already reported sizeable damage and losses. With food security remaining a priority of the government, especially with the challenges brought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, now more than ever, our government needs to champion the agricultural sector and the local industry," the resolution states.

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