AGRICULTURE SECRETARY Emmanuel F. Piñol said he will immediately move to ban pork imports from Cambodia after the emergence of confirmed cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) there.

“Yes, we will issue (a ban order) right away” Mr. Piñol told reporters on the sidelines of the 28th National Hog Convention and Trade Exhibit in Pasay City.

International media reported that 400 hogs were culled in Rattanakiri province as a result of the outbreak.

Mr. Piñol said that the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) practice is to ban pork imports immediately after the confirmation of ASF in the source country.

At the convention, Mr. Piñol expressed hopes that the Philippines can become an exporter of pork someday, to China in particular, especially at a time when ASF is affecting the hog industry in many countries, including China.

“There is a shortage of pork in China and this is something we could look at,” Mr. Piñol said.

Domestic pork producers said prices have fallen drastically due to oversupply caused by imports. Nicanor M. Briones, ProPork vice president for Luzon and former Representative of the Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines (AGAP) Party-list said that the DA should increase the current tariff for offal from 5% to 35% to help the sector address the oversupply.

“Ang mabilis na pwede niyang [Mr. Piñol] gawin ay ‘yung paglalagay ng taripa doon sa mga offal which is 5%, ibalik sa 35% para sa ganoon, ‘yung nangyayaring smuggling sa taba, laman loob, balat, ang pinapalabas nila ganon pero ang totoong pumapasok at karne, dahil mababa ang binabayaran nilang tariff. 5% lang, ‘pag naibalik sa 35%, wala na silang mapaglulusutan (The easiest thing Mr. Piñol can do is to restore the tariff on offal from the current 5% to the previous 35%. That way those who are smuggling and misdeclaring pork meat because the offal tariff is low will no longer be able to smuggle),” Mr. Briones told reporters.

The Bureau of Animal Industry estimates that more than 392 million kilos of pork were imported in 2018. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio