By Ben Rosario
Hundreds of millions of canned meat from China that continue to flow into the country’s grocery shelves have imperiled the P200 billion swine industry due to threat of the African Swine Fever, a partylist lawmaker warned Monday.
Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines Rep. Rico Geron said the ASF threat to the livelihood of millions of Filipinos engaged in hog raising should be addressed immediately by determining whether or not Bureau of Customs authorities continue to allow the entry of canned meat products coming from affected countries, including China.
Geron filed House Resolution No. 192 directing the House Committee on Agriculture and Food to conduct a congressional inquiry into the importation status of canned pork and processed pork products.
Geron said that although the Philippines remains safe from ASF , hog raisers still fears that the ASF virus might enter the country.
At least 18 countries have now been affected by ASF that contains untreatable hemorrhagic virus that has a 100 percent mortality rate on swine.
Geron disclosed that Vietnam, HongkOng, Cambodia, China and North Korea are among Philippine neighbors already affected by the ASF. Also affected is Belgium.
The Department of Agriculture allayed fears by issuing administrative orders specifically banning the importation of meat and meat products from ASF affected countries since August 2018.
On the other hand, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Recall and Seizure Order last May in a bid to stop importers from shipping into the country canned meat coming from ASF affected countries.
“However, notwithstanding these precautions reports have been received that canned meat from China such as Maling, among others, are still sold in our stores and supermarkets, proof of which are the canned goods confiscated by FDA in Zamboanga and those bought by concerned industry stakeholders and submitted to DA for testing,” said Geron.
The administration lawmaker said reports of continued importation of Ma Ling and other canned and processed meat are a cause of alarm because of its threats to the country’s hog industry.
“It is incumbent upon government and Congress to prevent the possible demise of the P200 billions swine industry in our country that would imperil the source of livelihood of millions of hog farmers and would derail our goal of food security,” said Geron.
He said the immediate holding of a congressional inquiry is vital in making the country’s ASF free.