Villar also expressed dismay that meat smuggling continue to thrive with P8.8 billion of smuggled pork alone entering the country in 2014.
Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura or SINAG reported that there is a discrepancy to the importation report declared by the Bureau of Animal Industry vs. UN Com Trade Report in 2014 -
Note: Meat has a tariff of 30%-40% while offal’s and fats have a tariff of 5%-7%. The difference in the tariff was viewed to have given rise to a loophole for technical smuggling.
Continued smuggling of meat in 2010, 2011, and 2012 dissuaded people to do backyard raising, there were 9.5 million heads in 2010 and only 7.7 million heads in 2013.
The Chair appealed to the Tariff Commission to revisit the appeal made by the Department of Agriculture and SINAG to harmonize the tariff rates and increase the tariff on offal to plug the loophole.
Usec Jose Reaño and the Senator Villar explained that the mechanically deboned meat used as an extender if taken in big quantity is considered dangerous to health because of its high calcium content.
A technical working group will be convened to formalized the Committee’s recommendation to the Tariff Commission.
On the Frozen Meat at the Manila Container Port
Sen. Cynthia Villar urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to immediately destroy 3.9 million kilos of meat abandoned at the Manila port.
A report said in December 2014, 5 million kilos of meat, containing pork jowls, bellies, diaphragm and belly fat, in 203 refrigerated vans were stationed at the Manila International Container Port. The containers were held due to the absence of required permit from the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
In 2015, the number of vans decreased to 158 with 3.9 million kilos of frozen meat.
“The presence of almost 4 million kilos of meat at the port after a year is already creating anxiety among the public. There is no assurance that unscrupulous and enterprising parties will be prevented from selling them,” Villar said.
“If we are serious in our drive to improve food safety levels in the country, we should address this immediately. Go after the consignees and put them on the blacklist,” she added.
According to experts, as long as frozen meat shows no signs of thawing, it will be very difficult for consumers to tell fresh meat from bad. When meat is moved under poor conditions or repeatedly thawed, it could cause serious threat to health when consumed.
Although cooking spoiled meat at high temperature kills some bacteria, toxins were left behind that cause food-borne illnesses such as nausea, diarrhea, fever, intestinal problems, or even death.
Commissioner Alberto Lina and USec Joe Reaño agreed that the frozen meat shall be immediately rendered by burying to prevent its unauthorized access by the public.
Likewise, the Bureau of Customs is asked to look into and study the request of the stakeholders that they build a first border refrigerated environment where inspection can be done without compromising the safety of meat and other food products that come into the country.
Those who were in attendance aside from those previously mentioned were – Ms. Tisha Dela Rosa, OIC Chief Macro Economic Policy Division, Policy Research Service, DA; Assistant Secretary for Regulations and Executive Director of the National Meat Inspection Service of the DA Minda Manantan, Dr. Simeon Amurao, Assistant Director, Bureau of Animal Industry, DA; Capt. Migelfio D. Saquisame, Bureau of Customs, Atty. Jemina Sy-Flores, BOC; Mr. Gerry Macatangay, International Container Terminal Services, Inc., BOC; Commissioner Ernesto L. Albano, Tariff Commission; State Counsel Dioxenos Sulit, Department of Justice; Mr. Godofredo Cualteros, League of Cities of the Philippines; Mr. Lloyd Paras,League of Municipalities of the Philippines; Mr. Francisco Buencamino, Executive Director, Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI);Mr. Chester Warren Tan, Vice Chair, National Hog Farmers Inc.; Mr. Eliseo Yu, Chairman, ProPork Producers Federation of the Philippines; Mr. Elias Jose Inciong, President, United Broilers Raisers Association; Atty. Roberto Montalvan, President, Federation of Cattle Raisers Association of the Philippines; Dr. Dante Palabrica, Phil. Swine Producers Association; Ms. Sharon Tan, Mr. Emerson Lu and Mr. Isidro De Guzman, Foremost Farms; Mr. Dan Javellana Chairman Emeritus of NFHFI, Dr. Leo Obviar and Mr. Jake Lugay of San Miguel Foods; Mr. Jess Cham, President, Meat Importers and Trade Association (MITA); Mr. Ernesto Ordoñez , Chairman of Alyansa Agrikultura; Mr. Jason Cainglet and Mr. Rosendo So of SINAG.