Senator Risa Hontiveros on Sunday urged the government to recall the 60-day price cap set on pork products saying that small-scale vendors are carrying the burden of its implementation.
While it has laudable intentions, the senator said the price ceiling only exacerbated the plight of pork sellers and suppliers who are already reeling from the effects of the “twindemic: Brought by Covid-19 and African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.”
“We are experiencing a ‘twindemic’ — Covid-19 and ASF pandemic which pose a double crisis for pork suppliers who are having losses because of the price ceiling,” she said.
“Producers and retailers are crying for help.
Even some experts are against the implementation of the price ceiling. It should be recalled so our kababayans can cut back their losses,” she added.
On 1 February, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 124 putting a price cap on pork products to arrest its rising prices.
Data from the Department of Agriculture (DA) showed its price soared as high as P450 in Metro Manila, which it said, is due to low supply prompted by the ASF outbreak.
To fill the supply gap, the agriculture department ordered the delivery of hogs from ASF-free regions such as Visayas, Mindanao, General Santos City and Cotabato City to the National Capital Region.
Instead of a price cap, Hontiveros suggested formulating ways to ramp up the DA’s efforts on prevention of further spreading of ASF as it is the major contributor to the increasing prices of pork.
“ASF is the root cause of the problem so it should be resolved.
The government should instead channel its efforts to bring credibility to testing, reporting, and responding to local outbreaks, among others.
The price control they implemented does not help, so let’s look deeper than the surface,” she said.
Hontiveros added that the recovery of supplies is based on the confidence of investors that the infections will be “within bounds, controllable and compensable.”
“Before they repopulate and distribute gilts, the DA needs to guide the hog industry in the correct way of taking care of the animals to prevent the further spread of the epidemic.
It will also include early detection, physical distancing and frequent testing which are being utilized by veterinarians from other countries,” she said.