Cynthia Villar snipes at salt iodization law: ‘Pinatay nito ang salt industry’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Cynthia Villar on Wednesday criticized the Act for Salt Iodization Nationwide (Asin) law, blaming it for the supposed death of the country’s salt industry.
During the Senate committee on agriculture, food, and agrarian reform hearing, panel chairperson Villar noted that the law demanded local salt producers to iodize the popular food seasoning.
Senators then learned that the country eventually started importing non-iodized salt.
“Ano ba’ng malaking kalokohan ‘yan? ‘Di sana pinayagan ’nyo na lang ‘yung local producers na hindi iodized at ni-require ‘nyo na lang na may manufacturer na mag-iodize kung ganu’n din lang ang gagawin ‘nyo na mag-i-import kayo ng hindi iodized tapos ire-require ‘nyong iodized,” Villar lamented.
(What is this big nonsense? You should have allowed local producers to produce non-iodized salt and required some manufacturers to produce an iodized version if you will just import non-iodized salt after requiring iodized.)
“Why was this law passed? Sino ba ang nag-advise sa Congress na i-pass ‘tong salt iodization law na ‘to? Sabihin ‘nyo sa’kin kung sino ba ang nag-influence sa Congress na i-pass ‘to? Pinatay nito ang salt industry. Bakit ‘nyo pinapatay ang salt industry?” she asked.
(Who advised Congress to pass this salt iodization law? Tell me who influenced Congress. This killed our salt industry. Why did you kill our salt industry?)
The Asin law was passed in 1995 by then President Fidel Ramos in a bid to require the addition of iodine to salt to curb micronutrient malnutrition in the country.
“During the time when the law was being developed or formulated, the level of iodine deficiency in the Philippines was quite high, and one of the identified source or vehicle for iodine that is always consumed or regularly consumed or commonly consumed in the household is salt,” National Nutrition Council’s Ellen Ruth Abella explained during the hearing.
But Villar argued that salt producers are not familiar with the iodization process.
“Tumigil ang mga salt producer kasi ‘yung requirement n’yong iodization, hindi nila kaya ‘yun. Kasi for you to iodize, you have to have a processing [facility],” she said.
(Salt producers stopped operations because they cannot comply with your iodization requirement. Because for you to iodize, you have to have a processing facility.)
“You have to understand our small farmers. They are not as well educated as you are,” she continued.
Villar lamented that no one is admitting who is in charge of the salt industry.
“Wala na ngayong uma-admit kung sino’ng in charge. You let the whole industry deteriorate by agreeing to that Asin law na sabi nga dito sa study, one-third lang ang dapat iodized for human consumption, two-thirds is for other uses. Bakit ni-require lahat?”
(Now, no one is admitting who is in charge. You let the whole industry deteriorate by agreeing to that Asin law, but according to a study, only one-third should be iodized for human consumption, and two-thirds is for other uses. Why did you require all?)
The Senate committee on agriculture, food, and agrarian reform is conducting hearings to discuss salt supply and importation measures and the Philippine Salt Industry Development and Revitalization Act.