Steps are now being taken to curb smuggling of pork, Malacañang said on Wednesday, as an alliance of hog producers across the country has issued an ultimatum in a prelude to a “pork holiday” for five days.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. noted that, Undersecretary Jose Reano of the Department of Agriculture said that another recommendation is to have a cold chain inspection area so no meat with question will go out of Bureau of Customs without inspection.”
“Cost is P300 million. Also the 12 digit HS code of the US will be used and included in the permit to import . To be sure that no illegal release is done, DA will secure directly from the shipping lines which will be compared with BoC and DA specifications. This IFM will be available to stakeholders,” said Reano.
“IFM stands for Inward foreign manifest. List of cargo carried in the vessel,” said Reano.
Coloma also texted a message of Reano, who said, “At yesterdays meeting, BoC informed them that documents with 5 to 10 percent tariff is being signed by the office of the commissioner and 100 percent inspection is going to be implemented. In the same meeting Senator Cynthia Villar demanded Tariff Commission to raise all meat tariff to 35 or 40 percent if waiver on bank secrecy is filed by importers, zero inspection will be done.”
Pork producers across the country issued an ultimatum in a prelude to a “pork holiday,” demanding that Malacañang take steps to curb pork smuggling or they would withhold their meat products from the market.
The group—led by the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc., National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. and Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura—is supported by the Agap party-list, Abono party-list, Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative (Batangas) and 120 individuals “plus thousands more backyard hog growers.”
Pro-pork has behind it 43 organizations, while NFHFI counts 14 groups.
In an open letter to the President, the group said the inventory in backyard farms shrank by 17 percent to 7.95 million head in 2015 from 9.54 million head in 2010 when Mr. Aquino assumed office.
“The entire livestock industry, at no point in recent years, has suffered this much loss,” they told the Chief Executive. “Thousands of backyard hog raisers are losing their livelihood by the day as smuggling not only continues, but is flourishing.”
They said that during the six years of the Aquino administration, “close to 80,000 backyard hog raisers have lost their source of livelihood, and even the once viable commercial hog farms are struggling” because smuggled pork is flooding the local market.
“Based on the report of our trading partners, around 202 million kilos of pork were smuggled outright, or through misdeclaration, into the country from 2010 to mid-2015,” the allies said. “This translates to about P9 billion in lost revenues for the government,” they said.
At the same time, the hog raisers said that production costs, particularly feed prices, were rising steadily.
The hog raisers demanded immediate action from Malacañang, including the strict enforcement of the “quarantine first policy,” and 100-percent quarantine test and inspection at the port of first entry on all meat imports with declared 5-10 percent tariff, all imports of the top 10 meat importers of the previous year, and all imports from first-time importers.
They also demanded more stringent and transparent criteria for the accreditation of importers and the strict implementation of the labelling requirements on expiry dates.
They asked that President Benigno Aquino III immediately sign into law the approved bill that defines the smuggling of agricultural commodities as an act constituting economic sabotage.