The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. has asked the Duterte administration to defer the implementation of a joint circular that transfers meat inspection function from the National Meat Inspection Service to Food and Drug Administration.
“We believe and in fact herewith request that the joint order to immediately implement RA [Republic Act No.] 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 a letter to the Agriculture and Health Departments.
Former Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and Health Secretary Janette Garin signed the joint circular transferring the functions of DA’s National Meat Inspection Service to DoH’s Food and Drug Administration to implement provisions of RA 10611 or the Food Safety Act.
Tiukinhoy said in a statement Pampi 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,” 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.
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 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.
The group seeks clarification 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.”
The group said the past administration was allegedly railroading the direction that agriculture should take, rather than to give way and respect the new directions the Duterte administration would 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,” Pampi said in the letter.
Pampi is comprised 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.