Pork shortage also about hog-raisers’, meat vendors’ livelihood and income: Pangilinan

AS WITH Covid, government must present and implement a game plan to solve the issue of pork shortage and subsequent high prices in a comprehensive and holistic manner, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Tuesday, the second day of the 60-day price ceiling on pork products.

“Love nating mga Pinoy ang galunggong. OK ang panawagan na maghanap ng ibang protein source ang ating mga kababayan,” said Pangilinan.

“Pero ang point ay kulang ang suplay ng baboy sa mga palengke. At hindi pa rin ito natutugunan. Ano ba ang dahilan bakit kulang ng baboy sa palengke? ASF (African swine flu) at sunod-sunod na bagyo. Yung bagyo, mahirap kontrahin. Pero yung ASF, sabi nga ni Cito Beltran, yan ang Covid ng mga baboy. 2019 pa yan. Kailangan nasolusyunan na yan. Milyong-milyong baboy na ang pinatay. Bilyon na ang nawalang kita,” he added.

The hog-raising industry, according to a 2018 DA paper, is worth at least P190 billion a year. And next to rice, it is the second-largest contributor to the country’s agriculture.

“Maraming trabaho at hanapbuhay ang nakasalalay dito kaya kailangan natin itong pagtuunan ng pansin at solusyonan. Hindi pwedeng stop-gap tulad ng price ceiling at pagtatawag na kumain ng galunggong,” Pangilinan said.

Malacañang imposed a 60-day price cap on chicken and pork through Executive Order (EO) No. 124, starting Monday, February 8, pegging the price of pork shoulder (kasim) and pork leg (pigue) at P270 per kilo, and pork belly (liempo) at P300.

On Monday, hog raisers and market vendors refused to sell altogether because the price ceiling is too low for them to even break-even.

“Yung mga magbababoy natin, karamihan, magsasaka rin. Backyard hog raisers. Pandagdag kita. Hindi lang baboy ang pinapatay ng ASF, pati na rin ang mga hog raisers, market vendors, suppliers ng mga feeds, at mga truck drivers na nagde-deliver ng mga baboy,” said the former secretary on food security.

According to the 2018 DA research, about 64% of the swine population is raised in backyard farms or those with less than 10 sows per household.

At the same time, he welcomed the National Bureau of Investigation’s probe into possible price manipulation and hoarding, a call Pangilinan made during the February 1 Senate hearing on high food prices.

“Go after those who earn off the misery and hunger of the people. Ang mga nasa kapangyarihan, ibuhos lahat ng oras at talino para masiguro ang kalusugan nating lahat. At pangunahin sa kalusugan ang pagkain. Alagaan ang ating mga magsasaka, ang mga hog raisers, ang mga mangingisda, dahil kapag malusog sila at ang kanilang bulsa, lahat tayo busog, lahat tayo malusog,” Pangilinan said.