It is possible that on April 6 or after Holy Week, the Senate will hold a hearing on the alleged “tong-pats” or syndicate within the Department of Agriculture on the importation of poultry and pork.
According to Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday, this is because the Senate is still locked down so the hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole is possible next month.
He said it is possible that this will only be done for one day when the Senate is already semi-locked down.
In a resolution sent to Malacanang, the senators said the DA’s recommendation to import more than 400 million kilos of pork and its recommendation to lower the current 30 to 40 percent import tariff to 5 percent was unreasonable.
If this is followed, pork will flood the whole country and it will kill the local hog industry while the government will lose almost P14 billion in taxes.
It is also said that there are “tong-pats” in every kilo of imported pork and chicken.
Senate likely to hold hearing on April 6 about alleged syndicate in DA
Last week, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) said it will investigate the alleged corruption in imported pork after Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed that some personnel of the Department of Agriculture charge additional P5 to P7 per kilo of imported pork.
“The PACC will investigate. In fact, we have already started the investigation last December 2020. The PACC issued a resolution to conduct a motu propio investigation on the alleged corruption in pork importation and will issue the corresponding subpoena,” PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica said in a text message.
Such scheme, Belgica said, should never be tolerated, especially amid the COVID-19 crisis.
“Maling mali po yan. Pandemya na, pagnanakawan pa ang bayan. Pasensyahan po tayo (That would be very wrong. We are in a pandemic and yet the taxpayers’ money is being stolen),” Belgica said.
“The PACC will submit its report and recommendations to the President,” he added.
Meanwhile, Agriculture William Dar is already investigating Sen. Ping Lacson’s allegation that some of the DA’s officials charge P5 to P7 per kilo of imported pork.
Dar does not yet have a timeline for when the investigation should end, but he said it has already begun.