Amid the ongoing pork holiday, the Palace assured that relevant government agencies are taking steps to ensure that the supply of pork products will be sufficient.
“Ang mensahe lang po ng ating Presidente, huwag po kayong mag-alala, hindi po natin pinili na kasabay ng COVID ay masasalanta rin ang ating mga baboy ng ASF. Kakulangan rin po ng supply ang naging dahilan kung bakit tumataas ang presyo,” said Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr in a press briefing on February 9.
One of the measures that the President and his Cabinet have decided on with regard to the lack of supply and increasing prices of pork is the creation of an Economic Intelligence Task Force that will be co-chaired by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). “Ang kanilang misyon, habulin ang mapagsamantala, hoarders, at price manipulators,” said Secretary Roque.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, in the same press briefing, added that upon the directive of the President, the National Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, and the National Security Council, with the DA and the DTI will work together to prevent and apprehend the price manipulators and supply hoarders.
Sec. Lopez assured that similar to the crackdown that the government did during the time when health products are in shortage, they will ensure that the price manipulators and hoarders of pork products will be similarly apprehended as well.
Aside from the creation of the Economic Intelligence Task Force, Sec. Roque said that a whole-of-nation approach is being applied to provide solutions to the issue of limited pork supply to revitalize the industry and lower the prices of pork products.
“Patuloy po ang ginagawang hakbang ng ating gobyerno para makatiyak na may sapat na suplay ng baboy sa ating mga palengke. … Kasama sa ating gagawin ang “repopulation” na may nakalaan na PhP600-M na pondo,” said Sec. Roque.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said during the same press briefing that the P600-M is intended to help with the repopulation efforts of hog raisers, including breeders and multiplier farms. For commercial hog raisers, Sec. Dar said that there is a P27-B financing budget to help restart the whole hog industry.
Aside from the repopulation budget, Roque underscored that financing options are available to support hog raisers, including P15-B from Land Bank of the Philippines, P12-B from Development Bank of the Philippines, and P500-M from the DA-Agricultural Credit Policy Council. There will also be hog insurance to assist local production, Roque added.
Meanwhile, to ensure the safety of hogs from the African Swine Fever (ASF), there is the Bantay ASF sa Barangay program, which requires the cooperation of local government units (LGUs), according to the DA. Under this program, the DA will provide LGUs with test kits to detect ASF faster.
In terms of supply, Roque reiterated the DA’s position that while supply is low in Luzon, especially in the National Capital Region (NCR), pork supply will be coming from the Visayas and Mindanao and in ASF-free areas in Luzon. Other measures include a designated nautical highway for hog supplies, utilizing the Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita project that establishes a direct link between farmers/producers and the consuming public, and providing transportation subsidies for hog raisers.
“Ipapatupad din natin po ang price ceiling sa ilalim ng Executive Order 124 na napirmahan po ng ating Presidente Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” Roque said. EO 124 imposes a mandated price ceiling on selected pork and chicken products in the NCR.
On the part of the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), a group of agriculture industry stakeholders that include hog raisers, its chairperson Mr. Rosendo So, expressed support to the government’s initiatives to lower the prices of pork products. ### OPS-PCOO