‘PORK/POULTRY HOLIDAY’ SUSPENDED
BACKYARD livestock farmers have thrown back the accusation of “economic sabotage” to the
Alliance of Food Processors (AFP) saying the unabated smuggling of mis-declared meat is what’s hurting the economy.
“We want to protect the interest and survival of the local hog and poultry industries which are facing extinction due to unabated smuggling of pork and chicken by unscrupulous importers,” said Rosendo So, chairman of Abono Party-List and convenor of the Swine Development Council (SDC).
The hog and poultry raisers earlier planned on holding a five-day “pork/poultry holiday” to drive home their point that smuggling of meat has been killing the local meat industry as well as depriving the national coffers of the right taxes.
“We implore the government to go after unscrupulous importers who are engaged in technical smuggling, he stressed, adding, “It is the crooked importers, in connivance with the corrupt customs and agriculture personnel, who are the ones sabotaging the economy because they do not only deprive the government of billions of pesos in revenues, but they also causing the collapse of the local growers, including the allied industries.”
Daniel Javellana Jr., head of the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc., echoed So’s position saying, “Surely we want attention but only because many of our backyard members have started closing shop and (smuggling) has threatened our livelihood for the longest time.”
At the same time, Javellana said the livestock sector is holding the planned pork/poultry holiday in abeyance due to “the good reception” of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Agriculture (DA).
During a recent meeting between Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Commissioner Ruffy Biazon and the SDC officials, the BOC agreed to give the DA a hand in regulating the importation of meat by requiring the BOC to automatically forward importers’ Inward Foreign Manifest (IFM) to allow the DA to inspect the importations against under-declaration and mis-declarations by unscrupulous traders.
“We welcome this development. But we also want 100 percent inspection of offal be done inside the Customs – this is only 25 containers a day. At present, the full inspection is being done outside of the Customs area. This must be stopped,” So stressed.
He continued, “For as long as the mechanisms and policies intended to check rampant smuggling are not in place, we remain vigilant and steadfast and our option to go on national pork and chicken holiday remains.”
The hog and poultry raisers also debunked what they called an “unsubstantiated claim” of the meat processors and importers that there is an ongoing shortage of pork in the country due to undersized pigs that have been affected by the so-called porcine diarrhea.
They said the low price of pork at the farm gate level is proof that there is no shortage of pork in the country.
“In fact, we still have around 2 million kilos of pork in cold storage,” said Pro Pork Association president Edwin Chen.
So, Javellana and Chen are supported by other industry leaders including Agap Party-list Rep. Nicanor M. Briones and Gregorio A. San Diego Jr., president of United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA).