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LKI Press Statement 2021-015
April 16, 2021
CONSUMER GROUP ASKS STATE OF CALAMITY OR NORMAL SUPPLY OF PORK, CHARGE PROFITEERS
Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) and its President Atty. Vic Dimagiba said “it is still unfortunately not clear with the Department of Agriculture if we are in the state of calamity or emergency in the case of prices of pork, or if we are back to the normal state. If there is a calamity, the agency has the ability to declare a price freeze or price ceiling, which should and will protect consumers from overly high prices of pork, which they are experiencing now. In less than a week from the expiry of the initial price ceiling , retail prices of pork jumped to more than Php 400.00 a kilo “.
Dimagiba said “They did this in November and December due to typhoons, and in February to April because of the swine flu. The local hog has no SRP, so we were surprised. But they declared SRP for imported pork. The question is if supply of pork is back to normal, and that should be the main focus. The price of 400 is high and it is simply pure profiteering, if that is the case. We disagree with giving SRP to imported pork products and there being no SRP for local. What dictates price in retail is the SRP of imported. The policy direction of the agency is reversed right now. The signal is wrong, as for during the price ceiling period, prices were stable at 360 to 380 a kilo, where prices of pork went down, but when you look at the price mechanism, right now it is high despite the lockdowns.”
He added “The state of calamity should continue, and there should be a declaration of state of calamity to have a basis for price freeze or price ceiling. We believe that there is still a calamity in terms of the ASF. Everybody is saying we are still in the state of calamity, that is why we feel that Department of Agriculture should act on this. Also… Pork is a raw material of another set of basic necessities, which is canned goods, so prices of canned goods may actually go up because of this. There are petitions being made to increase the SRP, but last time we heard, that given the pandemic, there will be no authorization for basic manufactured goods like canned products, in terms of SRP which is a good policy direction for the moment, given the ECQ and MECQ.”
Dimagiba concluded “But right now the consumers are the biggest losers in this situation because it is all right to import but do not adjust the tariff that will give the levels of competition between imported as well as versus the local. We have not changed that position. We do not meddle with how much the allowance for quantity of imported goods, as there are economic factors at play, but we are calling out the stability of the prices and how this may affect consumer welfare. We are not stopping our advocacy that if you can control and avoid, just buy what is enough to manage your budget if you are still being challenged by the economic situation. So right now… we can encourage customers to manage their spending on products like pork and meat and to perhaps maybe cut down for the time being.”