DAGUPAN CITY—If there are no pork from newly slaughtered pigs in public markets today, it is because backyard hog raisers have chosen to keep their stocks rather than sell them and lose.
Rosendo So, president of the Northern Luzon Hog Raisers Cooperative and director of the Swine Development Council, said backyard hog raisers on Friday decided to suspend supplying pork to public markets because of the government’s alleged helplessness in stopping meat smuggling in the country.
At 11:30 a.m. on Friday, So said backyard hog raisers stopped selling their stocks. “This means there will be no hogs in slaughterhouses to be butchered on Friday night,” So said.
“[Backyard raisers] do not want to sell their pigs because of heavy losses. They want the government instead to buy their stocks,” So said.
He said the backyard hog industry has been hurting because smuggled meat, which are passed on as fresh meat, are being sold at lower prices. “The smugglers are not paying taxes, so they can just sell their products from P6 to P10 a kilogram,” he said.
The suspension of pork supply was decided by commercial and backyard hog raisers in the country during their convention in Cebu City last week, So said.
“We have been trying to call on the government to stop technical smuggling of meat, but it has always turned a deaf ear to our pleas,” he said.
In his letter to Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Director Efren Nuestro, So said the total importation of pork, chicken, beef and buffalo meat rose from 200 million kilograms in 2005 to 408 million kg in 2011.
“Our commitment to the World Trade Organization is 54 million kg as minimum access volume (MAV) and we only used up 40,283,059 kg in 2011. What we are questioning is that we imported 169,218,977 kg as per your own admission,” So said.
“The problem is not in the MAV but the volume of offal (innards) importation which is abused by importers through technical smuggling,” So said.
He said in 2010, the United Nations reported that 56 million kg of offal entered the country, but BAI figures showed 105 million kg. Last year, he said, the UN said that only 51 million kg of offal entered the country but BAI figures showed 114 million kg.
“The discrepancies can only mean that 49 million kg were smuggled in 2010 and 63 million kg smuggled in 2011,” So said. Gabriel Cardiñoza and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon