MANILA – A lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Wednesday called on the Philippine Competition Commission to take action and investigate possible anti-competitive behavior in the pork industry.
Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo said the increasing pork prices is not only a result of local supply disruptions but also the deliberate constriction of imports for purposes of restricting supply and fixing prices artificially at high levels.
Quimbo said such an act is a violation of Section 14 of the Philippine Competition Act.
“Bakit hindi ginagamit ang lahat ng permits to import lalo na’t kelangan na kelangan sa ngayon? Wala bang multa sa hindi paggamit ng isang limitado na pribilehiyo? Pasensya na, pero naiisip ko tuloy na baka merong pork mafia sa likod nito (Why are permits to import not utilized especially at a time when they are needed the most? Is there no fine imposed for not being able to use such a limited privilege? I’m sorry but I think there’s a pork mafia behind this),” she said.
Quimbo also called on the Department of Agriculture to revisit their policies on unutilized import permits.
Quimbo noted that since the minimum access volume (MAV) of pork imports in the country is not fully utilized, there is no need to expand it by over 600 percent especially if there are insufficient data and analysis regarding the import volumes under the premise of low tariffs.
“Tila 70 percent lang ng current MAV ang nagamit lamang. Kaya’t misteryo kung bakit gustong taasan ng 649 percent ang MAV (It seems only 70 percent of the current MAV is being utilized. That’s why it’s a mystery why [the government] wants to increase the MAV by 649 percent),” she said.
From the current MAV on imported pork at 54,000 metric tons (MT), the government is considering raising it to as much as 400,000 MT per year.
If the PCC is unable to address the anti-competitive behavior and unscrupulous trading practices in the supply chain, Quimbo said the executive branch should intervene to stabilize prices on a temporary basis during this state of emergency by participating directly in the importation of pork at reduced tariff rates and possibly directly supplying to consumers through existing DA programs.
“I trust that the pertinent agencies will do their utmost to bring down the prices of basic goods as soon as possible. During this economic downturn, coupled with the recent tightening of lockdown restrictions, the government must do everything in its power to help Filipinos make ends meet,” she said. (PNA)