The Philippine Senate is reportedly slated to investigate an alleged P6-billion “tong-pats” (or kickback) scheme hatched by certain enterprising Department of Agriculture officials and corrupt importers.
Senate President Tito Sotto said he is going to convene the Senate Committee of the Whole to look into the recent allegations aired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson which could have serious implications on the nation’s hog-raising industry, as well as the health of millions who might get sick from eating contaminated imported meats.
Lacson said the racket involves the proposal by the DA to lower existing tariffs (from 30 percent to 5 percent) and at the same time increasing the cap on imported meat (from 54,000 metric tons to 400,000 metric tons), which would generate an estimated P6 billion in kickbacks and effectively spell the doom of the local pork industry.
“The only people rejoicing would be corrupt DA officials, meat importers as well as their cohorts in the Bureau of Customs,” representatives of the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines (ProPork) said.
Ironically, Malacanang still has to act on a call by the Senate to declare a state of emergency in Luzon due to the recent outbreak of Asian Swine Fever (ASF).
For his part, DA Sec. William Dar claimed he wasn’t aware of the existence of a syndicate earning huge kickbacks from pork imports, and said he would be directing his people to look Lacson’s allegations.
Lacson said he is also asking that the Senate pass a resolution asking the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the matter.