A group of local meat processors on Thursday asked the Duterte administration to defer the implementation of a joint circular, which transfers the function of the Department of Agriculture’s National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) to the Department of Health’s Food and Drug Administration.
In a letter, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) requested
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to defer Joint Administrative Circular 02 issued by former Cabinet officials on the eve of the turnover of their responsibilities,
“We believe and in fact herewith request that the joint order to immediately implement RA 10611 be deferred to give time for the present administration to study the same and establish the reasons for the haste by which it is being recommended to be undertaken,” PAMPI President Felix Tiukinhoy Jr. said in the letter.
On June 29, former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Health Secretary Janette Garin signed the joint circular transferring the functions of NMIS to FDA to implement provisions of Republic Act No. 10611 or the Food Safety Act.
Tiukinhoy said PAMPI, which counts among its members the largest meat processing companies, had opposed the transfer of the functions in the regulation of processed meat because it would only add another layer in the bureaucratic process of issuing permits for food products.
“There will be an increase in the bureaucracy of handling processed and pre-packaged food products, whether locally produced or imported, including meat products. There will be two Cabinet departments involved in a single issue. Consequently, there will be layering of costs, which will affect the Filipino consumers,” Tiukinhoy said.
RA 10611 proposes the transfer of the supervision and regulation of processed and pre-packaged meat products from NMIS to FDA, “for reasons unclear and consistently objected to by industry mainly because of the duplication of functions,” according to Tiukinhoy.
Tiukinhoy said because of the objections gathered during the period of consultations, the implementation of RA 10611 and the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) were delayed and remained unfinished.
“Yet the former secretaries have resolved to implement RA 10611 much ahead of the legal prescribed period of implementation starting February 2017,” he said.
“In this regard, we would like it clarified whether the said joint order should be given effect, considering that there is already a change of administration and the tenets and proposed objectives of the new administration many not support this transfer of responsibility, given that there will be new policies this administration will be adopting in the best interest of agriculture, agribusiness and food safety and security,” Tiukinhoy said.
He said it appeared that the past administration was railroading the direction that agriculture should take, rather than to give way and respect the new directions the Duterte administration will take to revolutionize agriculture.
“We would like to take this opportunity to seek an audience with you to further explain the potential adverse effects of RA 10611,” the PAMPI official said.
PAMPI is composed of 30 members, which account for more than P300 billion in annual sales and provide direct and indirect jobs and livelihood to some 300,000 Filipinos.