By Rey Anthony Chiu/PIA-Bohol | 12:31 AM November 17, 2019
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol—Authorities of the Department of Agriculture in Carmen town, successfully intercepted and confiscated some 110 kilos of processed pork meat consigned to a woman in Guinacot, Guindulman, amidst strengthening of Bohol’s biosecurity measures against the entry of the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF).
While the products were not tested for the presence of ASF, which could potentially spread the virus if it were tested here, the consignee of the shipment voluntarily surrendered the questionable shipment for destruction and proper disposition.
The shipment apparently slipped through the inspections in the provinces and in Ubay, as it was packed in two boxes and were stowed under the cargo hold of the running board of Mega Bus Lines, from Quezon City.
It was only when the bus arrived in Carmen, October 26, when another passenger took baggage from under the bus’ cargo hold that the bus conductor noticed the two big boxes that were wet and dripping, according to Provincial veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz, who shared the incident.
“It was good that we earlier gathered bus operators and drivers, soliciting their help in making sure no passenger brings in pork meat or processed pork meat, especially from Luzon where several provinces have reportedly been under tight ASF watch,” Dr. Lapiz remarked.
Knowing their responsibility, the bus driver then immediately called on their local contacts to properly inform the consignee about the package and to witness the opening of the suspicious package, at the Carmen police station, where they had the boxes placed for safe keeping.
That same day, with the consignee and the local agriculture authorities, they opened the consignment, which were declared frozen chicken mechanically deboned meat (MDM) that went through the “fit for consumption” certificate by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) as shown by the attached control number 1063942-19.
The chicken meat, with Dunn-Rite brand, imported by DEA Meat Trading was imported from Canada and repacked by a company called Export Packers Limited of Canada, was later found out to be containing 50 packs of pork longaniza, 40 packs of skinless longaniza, 40 packs of pork longadog, 40 packs of chicken longadog, 20 packs of baloney (bologna variation), 20 packs of siomai, 20 packs of embutido and 30 pieces of rolled ham.
Apart from mis-declaration of goods, the consignment did not also have a shipping permit and the company did not have a license to operate in the Philippines, and a possible violation of the tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, according to Carmen Municipal Agriculturist Arlene Cabusao and veterinarian Dr. Jerome Limbaga in their incident furnished report.
Having been lectured of the possible implications of her keeping the consignment and the possibility of spreading a virus so fatal to the local hogs and killing a multi-billion backyard industry, the consignee voluntarily surrendered the shipment for proper disposition.
In the absence of laboratories and the technology to test confirm the meat, authorities proceeded to burning of the processed pork meat and burying them in a municipal owned lot in town.
Over this, Dr. Lapiz thanked the bus authorities for their vigilance even as the incident has also presented an opportunity to change the loading cargo protocols for bus companies.
While at present, a team loads the cargoes and baggage in a bus’ hold, now comes a need for the team traveling with the bus to be present during the loading, to make sure they know which baggage may contain suspicious illegal shipments.
At that, hardwork paid off for Bohol ASF campaign which has the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian (OPV) insisting that squealing and getting contagious about the information on the dreaded hog disease is no over-reaction.