Quimbo files bill authorizing President to directly buy pork

MARIKINA 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo has filed House Bill (HB) 9256, to be known as the Affordable Pork Act of 2021, authorizing the President to “directly procure” pork products during public emergencies.

She said that under the measure, the government will serve as the “middle man” to ensure that pork is bought from local hog raisers at reasonable prices and sold at prices competitive with imports.

“Only [the] government will have the ability to ‘buy high’ from local producers and ‘sell low’ to consumers,” Quimbo said. “In effect, [the] government provides price support to local producers during the crisis while also ensuring consumers can buy pork at the lowest possible prices.”

The emergency measure also proposes the creation of a Swine Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (SCEF), which will be sourced from tariff revenues, to ensure its sustainability, the economist said. The SCEF will be allotted for the funding of vaccines for the African Swine Fever (ASF), subsidies for the transportation of meat products, loans and insurances for hog raisers, and development programs.

Stricter penalties will also be imposed on smugglers, according to Quimbo. Violators will face life imprisonment and be charged three times the price of the pork products they smuggled.

“To facilitate more efficient investigation and prosecution of cases of anti-competitive behavior in the pork supply chain, the bill directs the [Department of Agriculture] and [the Bureau of Customs] to provide the [Philippine Competition Commision] with necessary information to evaluate the pork industry,” Quimbo said.

To ensure that the minimum amount of pork to be imported and the benefits from lower tariff rates are maximized, the bill proposes that import permits be automatically approved if the concerned agency fails to act within the prescribed period.

“In view of the urgent need to address the situation in the pork industry, the swift passage of this bill is earnestly sought,” said Quimbo.