Pork barrel scandal hurts hog raisers

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It is not only the senators and the congressmen who are hurting from the pork barrel controversy. The hog raisers and the meat processors are also feeling the pinch.

Daniel Javellana Jr., chair of the National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI), said on Sunday the reputation of hog raisers, as well as the sales of their products, had been hurt by the unfortunate association of their industry with the pork barrel scandal.

“Our livelihood depends on pigs. Our families eat and our children go to school because of decent jobs provided by hog raising,” Javellana said in a phone interview.

“We’re hurting from the negative association of our industry to the pork barrel fund mess, which has absolutely nothing to do with the swine industry.”

In the Aug. 26 Million People March at Manila’s Rizal Park, several restaurants and food vendors refused to sell pork in protest against lawmakers who allegedly used their allocations from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to line their pockets.

The lawmakers’ misuse of the PDAF was supposedly with the connivance of nongovernment organizations (NGOs) controlled by detained businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.

Source of protein

“Don’t eat pork, join the struggle” and “Oink-oink” were the predominant shouts of demonstrators during the biggest protest action under the Aquino administration.

Call the lawmakers “crocodiles” but not pigs, which are the biggest source of protein for  Filipinos, next to chicken, according to hog raisers.

“We were also at Luneta to join fellow Filipinos in protesting and expressing outrage against the PDAF but we were hurting inside with the collective chant of ‘Makibaka, huwag magbaboy,’” Javellana said.

“The hog raisers are truly part of the campaign against the PDAF.”

Unfairly stigmatized

As a result of unfair association with the pork barrel scam, Javellana said 7 million hog raisers, feed makers, slaughterhouse employees and market vendors were being unfairly stigmatized for having swine as their main source of livelihood.

“The swine industry (magbababoy) is second only to the rice industry in terms of employment generation for Filipinos,” Javellana stressed. “It contributes positively to national development, food security and rural livelihood.”

How it originated

Javellana said hog raisers decided to join the pork barrel protests because lawmakers and authorities had turned a blind eye to the “rampant and unbridled smuggling of meat and other agricultural products like rice, corn, onions, fruits and vegetables” that  undercut local farmers’ prices.

The term “pork barrel” originated from the early practice in the United States of preserving pork and putting it in a barrel filled with brine. During the pre-Civil War days in the South, barrels of salted pork were given to slaves on holidays, resulting in a mad scramble for food.

The term was later used to refer to government appropriation for local projects by legislators, a practice seen as a way of buying voters’ favor.—With Inquirer Research

Originally posted: 9:06 pm | Sunday, September 8th, 2013

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