Press Release
April 20, 2021

No increase in MAV until Congress resumes session - Drilon

The Department of Agriculture (DA) cannot raise the minimum access volume (MAV) on pork imports just yet as Congress needs to act on the proposal when it resumes session next month, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon asserted on Tuesday.

"In keeping with the spirit of the law, the Congress, where the power to set import quotas lies, should be given the chance to act on the proposal to increase the minimum access volume on pork imports," Drilon said.

"To implement it without waiting for Congress to resume session and deliberate on the proposal is illegal, not to mention it is a total disrespect to a co-equal branch," Drilon stressed.

Drilon explained that since the letter of the President recommending the increase was received by Congress when it was already on a break, it is only when Congress resumes session on May 17 that it can proceed to deliberate on the proposal.

"We provided a procedural framework, through Agricultural Tariffication Act, under which the fixing of MAV can be exercised by the President. The executive must follow such procedures faithfully," he said.

Section 6 of the Agricultural Tariffication Act (Republic Act No. 8178) which provides that the President's recommendation to revise, modify or adjust the MAV in case of shortages or abnormal price increases in agricultural products is deemed approved if Congress fails to act after fifteen (15) days from receipt is not applicable in this case because the President's recommendation was sent to and received by the Senate when it was no longer in session and thus cannot act on the recommendation.

Drilon said the 15-day provision of the law only applies when Congress is in session.

It was Drilon who authored the resolution co-signed by 18 senators and adopted by the Senate sitting as a Committee of the Whole urging the President to withdraw Executive Order No. 128, which provides for the temporary modification of the rates of import duty for fresh, chilled or frozen meat of swine, and to recall the recommendation to increase the Minimum Access Volume of pork.

Meanwhile, Drilon said it might be "too late" if the President waits for the domestic market to become stronger before he withdraws the EO that lowers the tariff on pork products.

"Such withdrawal might be too late. The hog industry could be dead by the time the EO is withdrawn," Drilon said as he called on the President "to heed the Senate and listen to local hog raisers."

Agriculture Secretary William Dar denied the allegation that the proposal to lower the tariff rates and increase the volume of pork importation was based on "exaggerated" projections."

Drilon said that the Senate Committee of the Whole Resolution he authored asking the President to recall EO 128 is based on the 10-year historical data of DA which indicates that the yearly shortfall is only about 125,000 MT.

"The 380,000+MT shortfall which was the basis of EO 128 is the 'exaggerated projection,'" he said.

Drilon is confident that the Senate will pass the next resolution, which we will file when Congress resumes session on May 17, to withdraw the authority of the President under EO 128.

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