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DA to probe ‘tongpats’ scheme

Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar has ordered a probe into a syndicate that is allegedly involved in a money-making scheme within the department.

Dar issued the directive after Senator Panfilo Lacson yesterday pushed for a Senate inquiry into a syndicate that stands to gain billions of pesos in “tong-pats” (kickback) from the DA’s recommendation to lower tariff rates on – and to increase the minimum access volume (MAV) of – imported pork products due to the severe impact of African swine fever (ASF) on the swine industry.

Lacson, citing information from a “highly placed source”, disclosed during Monday’s plenary session, that certain DA officials are getting PHP5 to PHP7 per kilogram of imported pork.

Jane Bacayo, executive director of DA-minimum access volume (DA-MAV) Secretariat, said the issuance of the MAV allocation is above-board.

“The allocations of existing MAV licenses are to those  who  have been using them even before the administration of Sec. Dar, in accordance with the existing MAV guidelines,” Bacayo said in a statement yesterday.

Under the MAV guidelines, she said, licenses who can utilize 70 percent of their allocation for the previous MAV Year will retain their MAV allocation.

“Thus, MAV licenses must  always try their best to utilize 70 percent of their allocation so that they will retain their existing allocation for the succeeding year,” she said. “Issuance of MAV import clearance to MAV licenses is ministerial or non-discretionary on the part of the MAV Secretariat.”

She added that MAV allocations and licenses are strictly non-transferable.

“These policies are strictly adhered to and observed under the leadership of Sec. William Dar,” she said.*PNA

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