Senator Panfilo Lacson (file photo)

Senator Panfilo Lacson warned that the unabated corruption in the Department of Agriculture (DA), and the lowering of tariffs on imported pork will not only threaten the country’s food security but also its national security as disgruntled local hog raisers may have no choice but to join the New People’s Army (NPA).

 “It will be easy for the NPA to recruit new members, especially those who go hungry after losing their livelihood and blame government policies for their plight,” Lacson, chairperson of the Senate national defense committee, said in an interview over radio station dzBB.

 “This has given the NPA an opportunity to recruit. This will add to our national security problem,” he added.

 Lacson made the statement following the Senate’s investigation into the food security crisis due to the onslaught of the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak and alleged pork importation anomalies.

“There is nothing more basic than food, especially in a pandemic. If corruption infects the Department of Agriculture that should be at the forefront of food security efforts, it goes beyond human conscience,” he said.

“Wala na. Saan pa tayo pupulutin kung ang mga walang kaluluwa, walang konsensya pati pagkain ng ordinaryong Pilipino ‘di papatawarin?” he added.

“May kumita na sa PPE, may kumita kung saan-saan, may kumita sa smuggling. Pati ba naman itong pagkain sa hapag-kainan, titirahin pa rin?” Lacson said.

Lacson questioned the DA’s move to import instead of looking for more practical ways, such as redistributing produce from areas where there is a surplus to places where there is a shortage.

“It came to the point that Senate President Vicente Sotto III and I were joking that the DA has become a Department of Importation because it seems all the solutions it can think of are centered on importation,” the senator said.

“Instead of helping local hog and poultry raisers, why insist on importation as the solution? Is it because there is money to be made there?” he added.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 128, which aims to lower tariffs on pork imports “to address the existing pork shortage, stabilize prices of pork meat, and minimize inflation rates.”

However, Lacson said the government could lose P5.4 billion in revenues due to the newly-issued order. Ronald dela Cruz