Ban on pork, pork-based products from ASF-infected countries still in effect – DA

Marje Pelayo   •   May 27, 2019   •   6644

Deli meats made with pork at a butcher’s shop in France | (c) 2019 Thomson Reuters

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) reiterated that the ban on entry of pork and pork-based products into the Philippines remain in effect especially from countries affected by the highly contagious Asian Swine Fever (ASF).

The DA has been warning against the entry of pork and pork-based items from countries – Russia, Romania, South Africa, Ukraine, Zambia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, China – since last year because of the spread of ASF.

The list has grown in number with the addition of Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Mongolia, and Cambodia.

According to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, the highly-contagious swine disease can enter the country through contaminated meat or pork products.

On May 20, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) intercepted a ‘Maling’ brand luncheon meat from a returning overseas Filipino worker (OFW) at the Clark International Airport.

The OFW, who came from Hong Kong, approached the program ‘Raffy Tulfo in Action’ which facilitated the items’ release and return to the owner.

But Piñol questioned the program’s action for violation of the agency’s quarantine order and vowed to probe the incident.

The DA is also looking for the said OFW for investigation.

Radio broadcaster Raffy Tulfo, meanwhile, claims he did not know that such items were also part of the ban.

He argued that such brand of luncheon meat has been in shelves even of well-known grocery stores with manufacturing date as late as December 2018.

He added that the returned luncheon meat was not the canned items the OFW surrendered.

The OFW, Norma Agtara, wondered why she was barred this time when she even sent the same brand of luncheon meat sometime in April to her family but the said package was not held.

“Kaya ako ang pinag-initan kasi ang kapitbahay ko dito na naunang umuwi sa akin may dala ring ganun sabi nung asawa niya kahapon,” Agtara said.

(I was barred perhaps because my neighbor who arrived home earlier than I also brought home similar items, as relayed by her husband yesterday.)

Piñol stressed that the country’s 200-billion-peso hog industry will be compromised if the ASF enters the Philippines.

“Honestly, hindi lang ako (I am not just) concerned, I’m scared. Because the moment the disease enters the country, thousands of Filipino families will suffer,” he said.

ASF has so far infected millions of hogs in China and in all countries with recorded ASF infections and there is no vaccine yet discovered to cure it.

The import ban on pork and pork-based products from ASF-infected countries started last year followed by the DA-Bureau of Quarantine’s deployment of K9 units as part of its tightened border patrol to make sure no contaminated pork enters the country.

“Any other product shipped in after the ban should be recalled from the market,” the Agriculture Secretary said.

Violators of the ban will be sanctioned including a fine of P200,000. — (with details from Rey Pelayo)

DA to double tariffs on imported rice to aid local farmers

Marje Pelayo   •   September 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary William Dar announced on Friday (September 20) that the Department of Agriculture (DA) will impose double tariff on imported rice effective end of this month.

“We have to holistically and systematically protect the consuming public and much more, the farmers,” Dar said.

“So, I have taken the necessary steps and the direction in which we will be enforcing doubling the tariff during these times when we have exceeded importing rice beyond the requirement of this country,” he added.

The official said such measure is to address the increasing price of rice in markets in line with the Republic Act 8752 (Anti-Dumping Act of 1999).

The law said anti-dumping duties are imposed on imports which the government determines to be priced below fair market value.

“We will impose a tariff from the present level of 35 percent to 75 percent for imported rice coming from ASEAN countries and double the tariff from those outside ASEAN countries from 50-100%,” Secretary Dar said.

At present, 93% of the country’s rice is locally produced while about 7 to 10% comes from importation.

“We will protect the farmers by not allowing additional importation so that during this main harvest our local farmers will benefit from the respectable prices set by the government,” Dar concluded.

Amnesty condemns ‘disproportionate use of force’ by Hong Kong police

Jeck Deocampo   •   September 20, 2019

Amnesty International accused Hong Kong police on Friday (September 19) of torture and other abuses in their handling of more than three months of sometimes violent pro-democracy protests, but the police have said they had shown restraint.

Anti-government protesters, many masked and wearing black, have thrown petrol bombs at the police and central government offices, stormed the Legislative Council, blocked roads to the airport, trashed metro stations and set fires on the streets of the Chinese-ruled city.

Police have responded with tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets, bean bags and several live rounds fired in the air, warning the crowds beforehand with a series of different coloured banners. They have also been seen beating protesters on the ground with batons.

Amnesty East Asia director Nicholas Bequelim told Reuters a field investigation had documented “disproportionate use of force” by the Hong Kong Police Force as well as mistreatment of detainees, including “a couple cases of torture”.

Amnesty also said the investigation had found “exclusive evidence of torture and other ill-treatment in detention” and called into question the Hong Kong government’s whole approach to the protest movement.

There appeared to be a “level of incompetence” among the police force, with some instances of teargas being deployed without proper justification or clear purpose to maintain public order, Bequelim said.

Amnesty called on the Hong Kong government to conduct a dialogue with the protesters, and establish an independent investigation committee to look into the accusations of excessive use of force by police. (REUTERS)

(Production: Xihao Jiang, Joyce Zhou, Jiraporn Kuhakan, Alex Solum, Peter Blaza, Angie Teo)

Hong Kong is on the brink of rule of law crisis: FM spokeswoman

UNTV News   •   September 18, 2019

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying

Hong Kong is facing a crisis of the rule of law and the most pressing task is to bring an end to the violence and restore social order in the city, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Hua Chunying, the spokeswoman, made the comment at a regular press briefing while responding to a reporter’s question about a Hong Kong lawmaker’s remarks at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

Hua refuted the lawmaker’s statement that Hong Kong is on the “verge of a humanitarian crisis”.

“I think Hong Kong is indeed at the brink of a crisis now, but not a ‘humanitarian crisis’ as she alleged, but a crisis of the rule of law. Over the past two months or so, we have clearly seen how the situation in Hong Kong developed. I noted that journalists with CNN recently also turned their camera lens to those violent radicals who hurt ordinary people and passers-by. They waged crazy, heinous attacks and caused severe harms to the rule of law and security of the whole society,” said Hua.

Hua said that the most pressing and overriding task at the moment is to stop violence, end the chaos and restore the rule of law and order.

“What really needs to be investigated are those violent radicals and their criminal behaviors and the backstage manipulators, all of which have contributed to the seriously damaging, extreme violence in Hong Kong,” she said. (REUTERS)

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