SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan appeals to President Duterte to sit down in a dialogue with leaders of hog-raisers groups to better understand their plight and put in place the right solutions to save the local industry.
“Sabi ng mga hog raisers sa Senate hearing kahapon, walang nag-consult sa kanila. Baka pag narinig at nalaman ng Presidente ang sitwasyon ng African swine fever mismo sa mga magbababoy, ma-ideklara na niya agad ang state of calamity, at siya na mismo ang mag-rescind ng EO 128,” said Pangilinan, referring to the Executive Order temporarily lowering tariff rates on imported pork.
“We believe the President is not deaf and blind to the woes of our local hog raisers. If he talks to them, he would see the reality on the ground,” said the former food security secretary, noting that local hog-raisers’ advocates have written Malacañang at least twice seeking an audience with the President.
Battered for years by the African swine fever, local hog raisers are mired in a sorry situation worsened by neglect and wrong government decisions like massive pork importation, Pangilinan said.
“Willing silang makipagtulungan, pero kailangan nila na makinig ang gobyerno sa kanilang mga panukala para masolusyunan itong problema ng ASF (Local hog raisers are willing to cooperate, but they need government to listen to their proposed way out of this quandary),” he added.
On Thursday, April 15, the Senate Committee of the Whole unanimously approved a resolution calling on the President to withdraw his EO 128.
The local industry, as well as lawmakers and various groups, have opposed the order, saying it will spell doom on the Filipino hog raisers and will not necessarily lead to lower prices in the market.
Alleged smuggling anomalies of imported pork have also been around for years and remains unsolved.
The ASF outbreak that started in September 2019 has already cost the Philippine hog industry at least 58 billion pesos and has limited supply of fresh pork in the market causing a spike in prices, according to the Department of Agriculture.
Pangilinan lamented that after over a month since he called for the declaration of a state of calamity to properly address the situation, the government’s Economic Cluster has yet to issue its position on the matter.
“Matatapos ang pagdurugo ng industriya sa agaran at tamang pagtutok sa problema; at nasagip na sana ang ating mga magbababoy sa kalagayan nila ngayon (What would stop the bleeding of the industry is prompt and correct attention; it would have rescued our local hog raisers from the mire they are in right now),” he said.
“Sana’y pakinggan tayo ng Pangulo na magkaroon ng dialogue, nang masolusyunan na ang kanilang hinaing at nang buhayin muli ang agriculture sector para self-sufficient tayo sa pagkain kahit may pandemya (We hope the President will heed this call for a dialogue to once and for all address their woes and help revive the agriculture sector toward food self-sufficiency amid the pandemic),” Pangilinan added.