LGUs check stores amid recall of pork products due to African Swine Fever scare

Marje Pelayo   •   May 29, 2019   •   1956

Courtesy: Dr. Paul Tolentino Foronda

MANILA, Philippines – Some local government units have begun inspecting grocery and retail stores in their areas for available pork and pork-based products amid African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in some European and Asian countries.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday (May 28) issued a recall order on all pork and pork-based items from local markets to prevent the possible spread of the deadly pig virus.

READ: FDA orders recall of pork products from African Swine Fever-affected countries

Dr. Paul Toletino Foronda, municipal veterinarian of Dinalupihan, Bataan posted on his Facebook page images of their initiative to remind grocery stores to self-recall the prohibited items from their respective shelves pending turn over to the FDA.

Foronda said they were able to convince store owners to pull out of more than 800 cans of ‘Ma Ling’ brand luncheon meat throughout their rounds.

Foronda wishes that they may be given authority to confiscate the banned items to keep consumers from buying them.

“We do what we can to help. Gusto sana namin mabigyan na kami ng order to dispose para mai-alis na agad ang risk (We wish to be given order to dispose so we could immediately remove the risk),” Foronda said.

The initiative is also being done in Parañaque City.

Meanwhile, supermarket owners said they might return the items to their suppliers.

They clarified, however, that similar items with manufacturing dates earlier than the August 2018 effectivity of the import ban can still be purchased in their stores.

“Makikipag-away na lang kami sa mga supplier namin (We have no choice but to deal with our suppliers),” noted Steven Cua, president of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarket Association.

“Siempre, binili na iyan. Binayaran na. Isosoli ninyo pa sa amin. Ngayon kung meron silang ibang item hindi lang naman iyong item na karga nila, palit nalang. Swap (The items have been paid already. The suppliers might object if we return them. But we may ask to swap the banned items with other products),” he added.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said they will request the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to direct the local governments to assist the DA and the FDA in confiscating the products as well as apprehending the violators. – (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Nueva Ecija culls 207 pigs over suspected hog virus

Marje Pelayo   •   October 17, 2019

NUEVA ECIJA, Philippines – The Cabanatuan City Provincial Veterinary Office culled a total of 207 pigs following reports of hog deaths in Barangay Dalampang, suspected to have been caused by African Swine Fever (ASF).

“Nangangamatay iyong aming baboy ngayon. Kinuhanan nila ng blood sample at iyong iba namang mga baboy na nangamatay ay ipinalibing namin (Several pigs have died in our place. Blood samples were taken from some of them, while we buried the others),” said Amang Soriano, the head of Barangay Dalampang.

Because of the incident, the PVO advised residents, especially hog raisers in the area, to immediately report cases of pig deaths so that prompt measures can be taken.

The PVO added that they are being extra cautious because it is the season for increased incidence of vector-borne diseases among livestock.

“Maaraw eh, expect mo na sa stress, marami mamamatay ( It’s been warm lately so expect that stress level would be higher which might result in more deaths),” explained Dr. Jun Romero, head of Nueva Ecija Provincial Veterinary Office.

“Marami kaming kinunan na sample. Akala namin ay suspected na (African Swine Fever). Nag-negative naman sa laboratory (We took samples from several pigs because we suspected it was African Swine Fever. Laboratory tests turned negative),” he added.

The provincial veterinary office is waiting for the result of the laboratory tests conducted on the pig blood samples.

If the result turns out positive for ASF, Romero assured they will impose the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the deadly pig virus.

Hog raisers assured, likewise, that they will abide by the protocol should the tests return positive.

“Kami po talagang sumusunod doon sa patakaran ng ating gobyerno na kung saka-sakaling may mga sakit na gumagala sa aming barangay (We really abide by the government regulations, more so if pig virus is present in our barangay,)” noted hog raisers Miguel Ramos. MNP (with details from Danny Munar)

3 gov’t agencies in ARTA’s priority list for red-tape

Robie de Guzman   •   October 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – At least three government agencies are in the list of “priority” agencies of Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) that need their immediate attention due to red tape.

ARTA director-general Jeremiah Belgica said the agencies they are setting their sights on are the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Land Registration Authority (LRA).

Belgica said these offices are being focused on due to complaints, investigation results and confidential information.

He added that these agencies need reforms to make their transactions faster and less tedious.

“Nakita talaga natin na they really need to shape up because there’s really red tape inside these agencies,” he told reporters in an economic briefing Wednesday.

However, Belgica clarified that they are yet to thoroughly probe other agencies for red tape, adding that the body has only been investigating for over three months.

ARTA was created through Republic Act 11032, which was signed in May 2018.

It is mandated to ensure effective implementation of the law which is intended to remove red tape in government agencies and ensure the delivery of efficient services.

He also warned other agencies to implement needed reforms because some of them could be worse than the LTFRB, the FDA and the LRA.

“If we would say na they’re the most, marami pa ho kasing mga agencies na hindi pa natin na-thoroughly investigate,” Belgica said.

Meanwhile, ARTA revealed it is set to file a case before the Office of the Ombudsman against a provincial governor on Thursday for allegedly violating the Ease of Doing Business Act or the law that aims for optimal government transactions.

Belgica said the official was accused of delaying the release and processing of permits for some unknown personal reasons.

He, however, refused to divulge any more details including the name of the governor.

The ARTA chief said that since he assumed office in July this year, the agency has already filed cases against seven errant government employees and officials.

Belgica added they are also planning to conduct a weekly filing of cases against government officials who defy the administration’s order to deliver efficient government service and promote ease of doing business.

Belgica said violators of the Anti-Red Tape Act and Ease of Doing Business Act may face penalties as provided for in the law.

On the first offense, violators may face six months suspension while the second offense may mete out dismissal from service, permanent disqualification from holding public office, imprisonment of one up to six years and a fine of P500,000 up to P1 million. – RRD (with details from Rosalie Coz)

DILG to ask LGUs to lift entry ban on pork products from Luzon

Marje Pelayo   •   October 15, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is set to issue a memorandum circular to encourage local government units (LGUs) to lift their respective bans on entry of pork products coming from Luzon.

The LGUs imposed their own measures to prohibit the entry of pork products in their area in protection against the further spread of African Swine Fever (ASF).

According to DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, the DA requested them to allow meat processors to transport their products provided that their products are properly documented, properly processed, and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Incorporated (PAMPI) argued that so far, 56 provinces have existing import ban on pork and pork items from the Luzon region.

The group added that the meat processing industry would suffer P55-B loss in profit every year should the local governments not heed lifting the import ban.

PAMPI assured that its products are safe for public consumption, therefore, they are confident that they will not cause the spread of the ASF virus. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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