Senators urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to focus on the eradication of African Swine Fever (ASF) and disclose the list of meat importers. 

Sen. Joel Villanueva said that though the food crisis is a global issue, it is a local problem that requires local solutions. 

“In order of priority, unahin po natin ang pagsugpo sa ASF at pagtulong sa mga magbababoy,” Villanueva said in today’s Senate committee hearing. 

Villanueva also asked DA to explain farm-level solutions to revive the hog industry in the country aside from cutting tariffs on imports.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged the DA to be transparent and disclose the list of meat importers under the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme.

“If we are transparent, we can avoid people’s perception that there is corruption in pork importation,” Drilon said, citing allegations of kickbacks in pork importation.

He also cited a similar issue on rice importations.

Noong panahon ng rice importation control, marami kang naririnig na commission na galing doon sa mga bansa na binibilhan natin ng bigas. The same situation here. Sino ba ang importer at saan manggagaling?” Drilon said.

Drilon also said the Senate should weigh the effects of the lowered tariff rates on imported pork and increased MAV on the local hog industry, as these could “adversely affect” local hog raisers. 

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who filed Senate Resolution No. 685, said the food crisis must be addressed point by point. 

The Senate Resolution No. 685 aims to look into the imposition of “tong-pats” or padded cost of P5.00 to P7.00 per kilo of imported pork. 

“We need to identify those responsible for the ‘mass murder’ of 80,000 backyard hog raisers, their employees and support groups, and the rest of the tens of thousands of poultry growers as well as the millions of small vegetable famers who continue to suffer big-time only because a few [people] shamelessly stuff their pockets using their bloodied hands,” Lacson said. 

Sen. Francis Kiko Pangilinan appealed to Malacañang to declare a state of calamity due to ASF. 

“For the sake of consumers, for the sake [of] local farmers, for the sake of the local hog industry, please declare a state of calamity and provide the necessary funding para ma-address ang kalamidad,” Pangilinan said in a media interview. 

Sen. Risa Hontiveros expressed dismay over the massive importation of pork. 

“Napakasakit isipin, ngunit kung hindi magbabago ang diskarteng ito, baka hanggang 2022, nag-iimport pa rin tayo,” Hontiveros said in a Senate hearing.

Hontiveros said that the DA lacked effort in helping to revive the hog industry in the country amid the continued spread of ASF.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Philippines’ total swine inventory as of January 2021 was at 9.72 million heads and has affected more than 68,000 hog raisers. Hannah Oledan