Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Agham Party-list sues Meat Inspector

By Mortz C. Ortigoza

ROSALES – The Agham Party-list which is allied with the agricultural sector,

recently sued Executive Director Jane Bacayu of the National Meat Inspection Service.

Abono Chair Rosendo So said Agham Party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones sued Bacayu because she procrastinated on the implementation of Administrative Order No. 22 that should have started last year.

Earlier, a national association of hog raisers asked the resignation of Efren C. Nuestro as chief of the Bureau of Animal Industry, also for the non-implementation of AO 22.

The AO mandates the handling requirements of the retail-packing of frozen meat and meat products that should be kept in sanitary containers made of approved materials preferably stainless steel or food grade plastic as it they are kept in a temperature not higher than 10 Celsius.

So said because of the charges, the NMIS is now implementing the order.

The delay on the implementation of AO 22 happened because of the pressure exerted to the Philippines by the U.S and Canada through their embassy in the Philippines after frozen meat importers complained to them, So said.

So also decried the unabated importation of frozen meat because it is killing the local hog industry, 70 percent of which belongs to the backyard raisers.

He explained that importation of frozen meat has proliferated because importers are in cahoots with government officials who declare choice cuts of pork as offal.

Offal are parts of butchered pigs like chopped ears, snout, brain, and others, which are major ingredient of a popular delicacy sisig.

So said this practice of misdeclaration is technical smuggling that causes the government to lose P3.7 billion in tariff fees.

The tariff of a choice cuts of pork based on the Minimum Access Volume is 35 percent per kilo.

“In America, pork costs $1.55 per kilo, which is P120 more or less if shipped into the Philippines. But the local price could be P150,” he explained.

The P150 per kilo of imported pork from the US does not threaten the local hog industry as it can compete with that price.

So explained that the problem is the unabated entry of offal because traders used it as front for good meat. The price of offal in the U.S is only 50 cents (P22), and has a 5 percent tariff in the Philippines.

“Ang tariff ng P22 ay mga piso lang. E, ang ginagamit nila na instead na pinapasok nila itong $1.55 kilo instead na babayad ng taripa na P58, ang mangyayari peso lang ang binabayaran nila.”

Meanwhile So did not believe that the decision of the Philippine government now to implement AO 22 will court an economic retaliation from the U.S or Canada.

He said the US can not afford to do it because the Philippines was a huge importer of its soya beans that runs to billions of pesos per year.

He said in case the US punishes the Philippines, the Philippines can retaliate by choosing Brazil instead of the US as source of soya.

He added that the U.S needs the Philippines more than the latter needs the former.

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