Ako Bicol party list representative Elizaldy S. Co today (11 June 2020) urged agriculture secretary William Dar to fire officials of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) who have shown alleged bias for chicken importation to the detriment of Filipino farmers.
The recent BAI pronouncement urging local poultry producers to limit production and “give way” to imports is anti-Filipino, Co said. “It’s like rubbing salt to the wounds of local poultry raisers facing the grim specter of bankruptcy and business closures amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” he stressed.
The solon said unabated chicken importation is flooding the local market with chicken meat from unknown foreign sources which could pose severe health hazards to consumers.
BAI officials, he said, failed to show evidence of overpricing or even lack of local supply to justify more imports. “Even at the start of the Luzonwide lockdown, chicken prices have fallen to precariously low levels of P60 to P70 per kilo which is unsustainable. Thus, allowing more imports at a time of local oversupply is both shady and unpatriotic,” Co said.
He asked Dar to review BAI’s decision making and whether its officials are working for Filipino or foreign interests. “Whoever is making these questionable anti-local and pro-imported guidelines have no business being in public service. It endangers the Philippine economy and could harm a long list of taxpayers. This should never be allowed to happen,” he added.
Co echoed the position of the United Broilers Assocation questioning BAI’s claim that poultry imports were too “minimal” to hurt local producers. “I agree with Atty. Bong Inciong that unbridled importation has caused so much damage to the poultry industry in the last 25 years. It’s true that the volume of imports need not be overwhelming to cause damage. We’ve seen how it depressed prices to unsustainable levels,” he said.
Co stressed that apart from causing damage to local producers, the policy of favoring imports over local production is a grave threat to the country’s food security.