EDITORIAL: Use Brain and Heart Also

The National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) recently admitted the resurgence of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in some areas within the Bicol Region, citing among others the reason that ASF infected pork has been surreptitiously brought to areas that used to be free of the swine infection.

As a counter measure the agency again resorted to pork confiscation being transported from the points of origin to the points of destination.

It is claimed that once confiscated, the meat is being buried. Also again the usual approach of depopulating live hogs is being adopted to control further spread of the infection.

Just exactly what is the function of the NMIS? The National Meat Inspection Service is a specialized regulatory agency in the Department of Agriculture that is the country’s sole national controlling and competent authority on all matters pertaining to meat inspection and hygiene both for locally produced and imported meat. It was created under Presidential Decree No. 7 as National Meat Inspection Commission and renamed as National Meat Inspection Service under R.A. 9296, otherwise known as “The Meat Inspection Code of the Philippines,” as amended by R.A. 10536.

As it is the NMIS has concentrated to its regulatory function. Simply said the agency has continued to only use its fangs, without finding ways and means to contain the hog disease without endangering the swine industry.

The short term strategy of confiscating the hogs only to be buried alive and with the promise of compensation is short sighted and may even be a tool for corruption, with money changing hands under the table.

This approach is the surest way of killing the swine industry given that the hog population will continue being depleted without any foresight for reviving the venture.

Owners of hogs suspected of being infected by African Swine Fever (ASF) are offered a certain amount as a sort of compensation. It is susceptible to irregularities given that money exchanges hands in the process. Obviously overlooked is the dwindling supply of locally produced pork that in effect opens the gate for meat importation.

Just recently, the shortage of pork has been openly admitted by NMIS and other Department of Agriculture agencies, particularly during the Peñafrancia Fiesta occasion, which though not marked by the usual voluminous pilgrims or visitors, still required a large volume of meat supply.

How come that NMIS in particular and DA in general have practically abandoned the mandate to promote the development of the livestock and meat industries.

More directly how come that almost a year has already elapsed and yet these agencies failed to come up with a vaccine against ASF.

The country faces the grim prospect of the eventual death of the hog industry, courtesy of the very agencies mandated to promote the same. Or are we simply focusing on the opportunity for corruption when it comes to compensating for depopulated pigs? On this regard Filipino ingenuity is remarkable in situations where money exchanges hands.

NMIS and DA must find ways and means so that in the end they do not only use fangs but also brains and hearts.