Villanueva expresses disgust over gov't agencies' lack of support for salt makers

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva on Wednesday, January 18, expressed his disgust at the failure and confusion among government agencies on questions about the importation of salt or importation permit issues.

Villanueva was referring to a hybrid public hearing by the Senate agriculture committee chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar on two bills and one resolution related to the "diminishing" salt industry which was attended by officials of various agencies,

In a text message to Senate reporters, Villanueva said he was "sooo disgusted" primarily because:

1. There was a great confusion anong themselves on which government agency (DA/BFAR {Department of Agriculture/Bureau of Fisheries} and Aquatic Resources), DOH/FDA, (Department of Health/ Food and Drug Administration}.) Bureau of Customs) regulates the importation of salt or issues importation permit. FDA issues the permit but it does not have expertise on the domestic demand, local supply, and consumption.

2. These government agencies could not give accurate importation, domestic demand, and consumption data.

3. There is no apparent national agency that guided the salt industry after the passage of the ASIN law in 1995. Although salt is an agricultural product, the DA does not have a program dedicated to the industry. Zero!

4. Government agencies mandated to implement support programs for the salt industry under Section 6 cannot give acceptable update on the help provided to the industry. For example, the DOST provided equipment for salt iodization in the mountains of Kalinga

5. DOH could not give national data on the prevalence of goiter in the country. Goiter and other diseases relevant to iodine deficiency are the very reason why the ASIN law was passed.

The ASIN law stands for Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide or Republic Act 8172.