Nationwide round-up (04/13/21)

Duterte considering senators’ call to revoke pork tariff reduction

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte may consider the recommendation of several senators to revoke his order slashing tariffs on frozen meat, according to the presidential palace. “Nakikinig naman po ang Presidente sa lahat, lalo na kung magsasama-sama ang mga senador (The President listens to everyone, especially if the senators will have a united voice),” Presidential Spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr told a televised press briefing on Tuesday. Several senators have opposed the government’s decision to temporarily reduce the rates of import duty on fresh, chilled, or frozen pork products for one year, saying the order might kill the local hog industry, with pig farmers in Luzon severely affected by African Swine Fever outbreaks. Mr. Duterte issued Executive Order 128 that lowered the tariff rate charged to pork imports inside the minimum access volume quota to 5% in the first three months, and will increase to 10% in the following nine months, while out-quota imports are now charged with 15% for the first three months and will jump to 20% in the succeeding nine months. Senate Franklin M. Drilon on Tuesday said the order can be revoked through a joint resolution of Congress. “EO 128 will kill the local hog industry, not the African Swine Fever or ASF,” Mr. Drilon said. Mr. Roque, in a separate statement issued late Tuesday, said, “Congress may, by law, impose limitations on such delegated power or may reverse the same. Further, should Congress pass another bill changing the tariff on imported pork, the President may veto any particular item or items in such appropriation, revenue, or tariff bill.”

LOCAL SUPPLY
Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported the total number of live hogs transported to Metro Manila is approaching 300,000 heads as part of the initiative to augment supply and reduce prices. The DA said 3,264 live hogs arrived in Metro Manila from various provinces across the country on April 12, which brought the cumulative number of transported supplies to 292,321 hogs since Feb. 8. The DA also said 27,736 kilograms of pork in carcass form also arrived in Metro Manila on April 12, bringing the total to 1.94 million kilograms since Feb. 8, majority of which came from Central Luzon. On April 7, the DA announced that it will not recommend an extension of the order that capped the retail prices of pork. Instead, a suggested retail price of imported pork products was implemented. Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

Lawyers, prosecutors now included in vaccination priority list

PROSECUTORS and other lawyers in both public and private practice are now included in the priority list for vaccination against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as “frontline personnel in essential sectors.” Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., head of the vaccine rollout program, approved the request of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the official organization of Philippine lawyers, to include legal practitioners in the category that is 4th in the priority list. The approval was communicated to National Vaccine Operations Center Undersecretary Myrna C. Cabotaje in a letter dated April 8 and made public on Monday. Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said on Monday that regional prosecutors earlier sent a similar request to the COVID-19 inter-agency task force. The category covers workers involved in tasks that are “direct client-facing and cannot dutifully meet minimum public health standards.” Bianca Angelica D. Anago