Meat processors hit over pork ban call

A PARTY-LIST solon slammed the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMI) for calling on the public to boycott local pork.

Magsasaka party-list Rep. Argel Cabatbat said calling for a local boycott does not contribute to solving the African Swine Flu (ASF) problem.

Cabatbat reminded the PAMI that ASF did not originate from  local hogs but from  imported meat.

“While we agree that the government needs to contain the ASF breakout in the country, the call of the PAMI to stop buying local pork is misinformed,” Cabatbat said.

“Calling for a local boycott does not contribute to solving the problem at hand, and it continuously hurts the hog-raising industry, a huge chunk of which are small players who are doing honest work to survive day-by-day,” he added.

Cabatbat also said that the PAMPI needs to be reminded that the likelihood of the ASF originating from imported pork is greater than it coming from local pork.

Meanwhile, the solon said that the call to punish the local industry is a form of scapegoating, especially since the call comes from an organization which sources most of its meat abroad.

Billions of pesos in capital have been lost in the past couple of months because of the spread of the ASF, as well as the panic and misinformation that came with it.

“Our local players consistently cooperate with authorities, and have instituted stringent measures to protect the interests and safety of the buying public.

The PAMPI’s call muddles the conversation, passes the blame to local producers, and affects the job and livelihood of millions of Filipinos. The way to respond to this problem is for industry players to come together, instead of one or few players manifesting greed and intentionally causing panic just to get ahead of the competition,” he stressed.

Earlier, Deputy Speaker and ABONO party-list Rep. Conrado Estrella proposed to the government to impose a moratorium on the importation of all pork products.

Estrella said the moratorium is crucial as the local hog industry has started to absorb over P1 billion in losses since the African Swine Flu virus entered the country.

“I think it is now time for government to impose a moratorium, on pork product importation until we have completely cleared our pig farms of the ASF threat.  We have to stop the bleeding before it’s too late,” said Estrella, in an interview.

However, the moratorium could be lifted as soon as the ASF has been totally eradicated, he said.