Arroyo 'not advocating' lower tariffs on meat

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo clarified on Wednesday, August 8, that she is not pushing for the proposal to reduce tariff or taxes on meat  imports to ease inflation.

Arroyo made the clarification during a press conference before members of multi-agriculture industry alliance Samahan ng Industriya at Agrikultura (Sinag) on Wednesday at the Oriental Palace restaurant in Quezon City. 

‘Yung nababasa ninyo sa peryodiko, sa news, napag-usapan na ’yon at sabi ng Department of Agriculture (DA) hindi puwede ibaba ang taripa ng meat at siyempre we are not advocating this,” Arroyo said during the press briefing, addressing Sinag members.

(What you are reading about in the news has already been discussed and the Department of Agriculture already said we cannot lower the tariffs on meat, so of course we are not advocating this.)

Sinag Chairman Rosendo So himself sought clarification from Arroyo's office on her position on reducing meat tariffs, which would put the local meat industry at a disadvantage.

Arroyo made the statement following news reports quoting Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda that the former president has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an executive order reducing tariffs on imported meat and fish to ease inflation. 

Salceda said this was discussed when he joined Arroyo and other lawmakers in a meeting with the country's economic managers on July 31 to address inflation, which climbed to a new high of 5.7% in July. 

On Wednesday, Arroyo said they were merely brainstorming at the time and what was discussed was supposed to be "off the record." Still she said she was "glad that Joey Salceda brought it out in a more organized manner, the points that were raised."

The Pampanga 2nd District Representative said it would be up to Malacañang to act on the proposals discussed during her meeting with the country's economic managers.

The economic managers have been mum on what was discussed during the meeting with Arroyo and a couple of lawmakers, including Salceda. Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier said Arroyo pitched to them 5 measures to mitigate the rise of prices of basic commodities but declined to give details.

Salceda later revealed the 5 measures. Aside from lower tariff on imported meat products, the others are: 

The bill seeking to replace quantitative restrictions on rice imports with the imposition of taxes was approved on second reading at the House on August 7. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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