LEGAZPI CITY --- Ako Bicol (AKB) partylist Rep. Elizaldy Co has slammed as baseless and anti-Filipino the plan of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to import chicken meat to sustain the dwindling supply of chicken products in the market.
Co on Thursday, June 11, said he has asked Agriculture Sec. William Dar to dismiss BAI officials behind the planned importation of chicken products to the detriment of thousands of farmers engaged in the poultry industry.
The recent BAI pronouncement urging local poultry producers to limit production and “give way” to imports was baseless, unreasonable and 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 said.
The AKB solon said chicken importation if not controlled would flood the local market with chicken products from abroad, which would pose severe health hazards to consumers.
He assailed the BAI for failing to show and justify its claim that local poultry farmers could not adequately supply the market with cheap poultry products.
Co questioned BAI’s basis in saying that local chicken products are overpriced, thus favoring the importation, which is designed to bring down the prices of the same.
“Even at the start of the Luzon-wide lockdown, chicken prices have fallen to precariously low level of P60 to P70 per kilo which is unsustainable. Thus, allowing more imports at a time of local oversupply is both shady and unpatriotic,” he added.
Co 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 said.
Co echoed the position of the United Broilers Association 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.