The Sangguniang Panlungsod has raised concerns about the increasing prices of pork in the market and the farm gate prices of hogs.

Councilor Luis Marcaida III said the concern was brought to his attention by both vendors and consumers at the public market, where pork prices rose to ₱340-₱350 per kilo from only ₱270-₱280 per kilo last week.

He expressed worry over the matter, especially considering that Palawan is among the few provinces in the country that are free from African swine fever (ASF). He noted that traders are already shipping out hogs for a higher price compared to local buyers.

“Pag hindi natin ito binantayan at hindi tayo naging alerto sa kaganapang ito, baka magulat na lang tayo na sobrang taas na yung presyo ng baboy dyan sa palengke. Kung ito ay tataas pa at umabot sa ₱400 dahil patuloy ang paglalabas papunta sa ibang lugar, baka wala na tayong maulam kung wala ring isdam” Marcaida said in his privilege speech during their regular session on Monday, February 26.

Councilor Elgin Damasco also expressed concern about the farm gate price of livestock and the owners choosing to ship their products outside for a higher price.

He also mentioned that he has spoken to the City Legal Office about the possibility of implementing a price ceiling for pork products and a minimum farm gate price. However, he was advised that they do not have the power to do so.

“Ang mga farmers at mga livestock owners ay nagrereklamo rin dahil yung mga local buyers natin, angbabarat mamili. Yung farm gate price nila ay napakababam” Damasco said.

City Veterinary Office head Dr. Indira Santiago, meanwhile, explained that they held a meeting with livestock farmers six months ago, during which the farmers requested a farm gate price ceiling of ₱150 per kilo. However, she noted that the traders did not attend the meeting, resulting in a failure to reach a consensus.

She further stated that before Palawan was certified as ASF-free, the live weight price dropped as low as ₱90 per kilo.

Another problem, she said, is the insufficient supply due to the limited number of people engaged in livestock farming in the city.

“May isang commercial farm ang hindi na nag-o-operate and at the same time, ang naiiwan sa atin ay mga backyard raisers lang,” Santiago stated.

However, she noted that prices began to rise following the active surveillance report confirming the city’s ASF-free status and the arrival of traders from other provinces.

“Nung dumating yung mga taga-Ilo-ilo para mamili, tumaas yung farm gate price. From ₱150 umaabot na ngayon sa ₱180-₱190,” she said.

“Ang ginagawa nila is nag-iiwan sila ng pera para pambili regardless kung anong price yan kaya pataasan na ng presyo. Ang nangyayari, nauubos yung stocks para sa konsumidores ng Puerto Princesa,” she added.

She also mentioned that traders have reached out to her, seeking help on how prices can be regulated to curb further increases in pork prices in the market.

Moreover, Santiago stated that with the rising prices, vendors also did not open last Saturday. She noted that only 143 heads were butchered at the slaughterhouse, well below the regular 240 heads processed every day.

She also highlighted that while the entire province of Palawan is considered ASF-free, only six municipalities have active surveillance recognition. As a result, the majority of hogs shipped out still come from the city. She emphasized that if left unregulated, this could have a significant impact on the local market.

She reiterated the traders’ request for a dialogue with raisers and vendors to address issues related to prices and the regulation of hog shipments.

Regarding the rising cost of feeds and the buying price of middlemen from backyard owners, Santiago pointed out the factors of the law of supply and demand, along with production costs.

City Legal Officer Atty. Norman Yap, meanwhile, explained that without an emergency or crisis, they cannot impose price controls or bans, or even implement a moratorium on shipping out livestock.

“Because ours is a free economy so we let the market dictate the prices. So we have to establish whether there is an emergency or crisis before we can seek measures such as price control,” Yap said.

“Regarding limiting importation, I am not an expert on agriculture but before we can consider that, we have to look whether that will exactly be its effect in terms of supply and demand because that might actually drive prices up or down if not studied carefully,” he added.