PCC asked to look into alleged market manipulation in pork imports

A LEGISLATOR called on the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) on Wednesday to investigate possible market manipulation in pork imports, resulting in high prices.

In a briefing Wednesday, Marikina City Representative Stella Luz A. Quimbo said rising pork prices may not be solely due to supply disruptions as a result of African Swine Fever but also due to deliberate attempts to restrict the supply of imports.

“I call on the Philippine Competition Commission to take action and investigate possible anti-competitive behavior in the pork industry and penalize all those proven to have violated the law,” she said.

She added that based on past investigations into rising pork prices, legislators have found that the import quota for pork, known as the minimum access volume (MAV), was not fully utilized. The MAV is currently set at 54,000 metric tons (MT), which the Department of Agriculture plans to raise to 404,000 MT to expand supply and lower market prices.

Ms. Quimbo said there is no need to expand the MAV, especially by over 600% which she called “suspicious.”

She said it is a “mystery” why importers do not fully use their permits to import even with the supply of pork running low as a result of the ASF outbreak. Restricting supply is deemed a form of price fixing and violates 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 the permits to import not fully utilized especially now that there is demand for pork? Is there no penalty for not using this privilege? I’m sorry but I think there is a pork mafia behind this),” she said. — Gillian M. Cortez