MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III wants to convene the upper chamber’s Committee of the Whole on April 6 to launch an inquiry into the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) alleged “tongpats” scheme in pork importation.
“I’m contemplating on convening the Committee of the Whole on April 6 for the issue on agriculture,” Sotto told reporters in an online interview on Monday.
The Senate decided to initiate the Committee of the Whole investigation after adopting Resolution No. 685 filed by Senator Panfilo Lacson.
“Itong hearing, hindi lang para sabihin sa executive department na ganito yung sitwasyon,” the Senate president said.
(This hearing would not only be to inform the executive department of the situation.)
“Ito baka ma-uncover na yung mga nangyayaring milagro sa Department of Agriculture at sinong mga nasa likod nito. Kailangang nalalaman ng taumbayan kung sinu-sino ang mga nasa likod niyan,” he added.
(This can uncover the miracle happening within the Department of Agriculture and who are behind this. The public needs to know these individuals.)
According to Sotto, he would request a list of personalities to be invited to the inquiry from Lacson.
The Senate resolution sought to investigate the “tongpats” scheme as well as technical smuggling of poultry and pork products, which were feared to “further perpetrate unabated corruption” and “ultimately lead to the demise of the local industry and adverse public health effects if appropriate measures [are not] adopted.”
Lacson, who previously exposed the “tongpats” scheme, claimed that kickbacks from the racket could amount to P6 billion per year if President Rodrigo Duterte approves the DA’s proposal to lower tariffs on pork and increase import allocation on such products.
READ: Lacson bares P6B ‘tongpats’ scheme in pork importation
The DA formed its own special committee to look into allegations of corruption in the allocation of meat import certificates under the in-quota minimum access volume (MAV) following Lacson’s exposé.
READ: DA panel to probe alleged ‘tongpats’ scheme in pork import allocation
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