POINTING OUT the difference in the pork import figures of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) for 2020, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan says the Senate will try to solve both the suspected massive smuggling of pork products and the African swine fever (ASF), which has severely affected local hog growers.
Pangilinan, who has repeatedly appealed to Malacañang to declare a state of calamity to help local hog growers address ASF, said that based on government data, 30 million kilos of pork is the potential amount of pork illegally brought into the country last year.
BOC data show that a total of over 225 million kilos of pork with a value of over 16 billion pesos was imported in 2020.
BAI, which conducts the meat inspection, reported pork imports at over 256 million kilos.
“Bakit magkaiba ang data ng Customs at ng BAI? Bakit mas mababa ang sa Customs? Nasaan napunta ang mga 30 million kilos ng imported na baboy? Yan kaya ang dami ng imported na baboy na nakalusot sa Customs ng walang tax? (Why are the data of the Customs and BAI different? Why are Customs’ figures lower? Where did the roughly 30 million kilos of imported pork go? Could this be the amount of imported pork that passed through Customs without tax?)” Pangilinan asked.
“Kailangang ipaliwanag ‘yan dahil bilyong piso na ang nawala sa mga Pilipinong magbababoy dahil sa ASF, bilyon pa ang nawala sa tax na pwede sanang gamitin para makatulong sa kanila maka-recover (This discrepancy should be explained because Filipino hog growers have already lost billions of pesos to ASF, and now billions of pesos of taxes that could be used to help them recover are lost too),” he added.
Pangilinan, who had called attention to the plight of ASF-impacted hog growers early this year, said Customs should keep a tighter watch over possible misdeclaration or misclassification of pork shipments, as smugglers try to dodge paying the proper tariffs in cahoots with some Customs officials.
“Kriminal at kasuklam-suklam ang gagawa ng ganito lalo na sa panahong hirap na hirap na ang mga Pilipino dahil sa mataas ang presyo ng mga bilihin at walang trabaho at mababa ang kita (This is criminal and unconscionable especially in these times when Filipinos are barely ekeing out a living due to high prices of goods, loss of jobs, and lower incomes),” he said.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon said he, together with Senate Committee on Agriculture chair Sen. Cynthia Villar and Pangilinan, will file a joint resolution to revoke Executive Order 128, which lowered pork tariffs, and to provide for the appropriate tariff and minimum access volume of pork importation.
Just before Congress went on recess in March, the Senate unanimously adopted Pangilinan’s Resolution 97 asking the President to declare a state of calamity due to ASF so that calamity funds may be unlocked to help the local hog industry recover.