The chiefs at the Department of Agriculture were admonished last Monday for apparently favoring pork importers instead of local traders.
In a hearing of the Senate committee on agriculture regarding the climbing food prices, Sen. Cynthia Villar asked why the price for pork per kilo was capped at P270 to P300, whereas the Bureau of Customs’ reported landed cost was P132.
Agriculture minister William Dar stressed that the DA was merely “recommendatory”, but Villar found his response wanting.
She asked why the DA was recommending something that was “wrong.”
“Parang you’re washing your hands. You’re DA, you should protect the local industry,” she said. “Alam mo na P132 lang ang per kilo, ang landed cost with all the tariff ng imported, e bakit mo pa babaan ng tariff?”
Dar then said that their figure was based on current offers for frozen pork, which was priced $3 per kilo.
“Ano ka ba kampi ka ba sa importer o sa local producer?” said Villar. “E sinabi na ng BoC P132 and landed cost, bakit binabago niyo?”
“Ma’am, tumataas ang presyo ng pork sa global,” he replied, to which Villar stressed that the move to lower imported pork taxes would seriously disable local farmers.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan was also against this, asking how the DA came up with the price of $3 per kilo, when the BoC’s figure stood at $1.65 only.
Agriculture assistant secretary for policy Noel Padre then repeated that they based it off current figures in the world market and that data was provided to them by importers.
“Bakit yung mataas ang ibibigay ninyo, bakit hindi yung mas mababa?” he asked. “Wala tayong negotiation sa kanila, sila ang magbebenta sa atin tayo pa ang magbibigay ng mataas na presyo?”
He went on: “Why are we increasing the prices of the value imports? Bakit natin pinangungunahan yung importer? Bakit natin pinapaboran yung importer? Di ba dapat inuuna natin yung interest nung ating mga kababayan, yung interest ng gobyerno?”
Photo: Philippine Star