The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to set aside a joint circular issued by the Aquino administration ordering the transfer of the functions of the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) to the Food and Drug Administration to implement provisions of Republic Act (RA) 10611 or the Food Safety Act.
The questioned circular was signed by former Department of Agriculture secretary Proceso Alcala and Department of Health (DOH) secretary Janette Garin.
Pampi, composed of 30 members and accounting for more than P300 billion in annual sales and which provides direct and indirect jobs and livelihood to some 300,000 Filipinos, sent a letter on July 4, requesting Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to defer the implementation of the Joint Administrative Circular No. 02 issued by former Cabinet officials on June 29.
“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.
Tiukinhoy added that Pampi is against 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,” he 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.”
Tiukinhoy said that because of the objections gathered during the period of consultations, the implementation of RA 10611 and the formulation of the implementing rules and regulations (IRRs) 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 noted.
“In this regard, we would like to be clarified if 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 may 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 accused the Aquino administration of railroading the direction that agriculture should take, rather than give way and respect the new directions that the Duterte administration will take to develop agriculture.