BY Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
Nearby towns may now laugh at Iloilo City for their superior abattoirs. The city’s facility is not “double “A” or “AA”, one allowed to process cattle or beef. That disgraceful fact disqualifies it from sporting the moniker “premier city”.
Former Iloilo City mayor, now Rep. Jerry P. Treñas had another city in mind when he cried in the 2001 elections to make Iloilo “Queen City of the South once more”.
He finished his third and last term leaving the city as wretched as before.
Iloilo City’s “tourist attraction” Iloilo River is still the country’s biggest septic tank next to Pasig because Jerry P. Treñas throughout his reign failed to compel establishments dotting along the embankments to install septic tanks and bar them from emptying their wastes into the arm of the sea that Iloilo River is.
Treñas moved up to the House of Representatives after the May 10, 2010 elections with Iloilo City too far from becoming premier city. How can it become one when it has no decent slaughterhouse?
Passi City has “AA” abattoir and enjoys the exclusive patronage of the giant Montery which delivers at least 100 heads of swine and cattle for processing daily. The processed meat is distributed throughout W. Visayas.
Iloilo City has none. It is a sad reality but Ilonggos have been lulled by sweet talks from Treñas. It is a sad reality that the slaughterhouse could endanger public health.
Its facility at nearby Pavia, Iloilo is unsanitary. Its conveyor of chain blocks is out of order; butchers just do their trade half-naked and sans hairnets or hard hats, aprons and boots. It cannot even slaughter cattle because the National Meat Inspection Commission refused to give it the nod.
At the present abattoir, carcasses of hogs are strewn to the floor mixing it up with dung and mud. There is no veterinarian to ensure that the animals are healthy prior to butchering and certify that the pork is safe for human consumption.
The facility is a far cry from its old self, that is, before the group of one Vincent De La Cruz unceremoniously took over in August 2010, in the process, kicking out the staff of City Veterinarian Tomas Forteza.
Under the watch of Forteza, the hogs are slaughtered fast and clean. Throughout the process, after the animals are stunned by electric shock, carcasses are suspended on air by the conveyor made of chain blocks where they are cleaned.
Workers wore hard hats or hairnets depending on what sections they were assigned, aprons and boots. They were led by four certified butchers who trained in Bulacan. The abattoir processed 200 to 300 heads of hogs nightly and work was completed by 12 midnight; the clients could deliver their merchandize to different outlets in Iloilo before dawn.
That is different now with Forteza and his crew gone.
The Department of Agriculture handed the city under Treñas P50 million to erect a slaughterhouse. The amount, for some reasons known only to Treñas, was short.
The purchase of the lot in nearby Pavia, Iloilo where the abattoir stands itself is shrouded in controversy after real estate broker Efren Jimeo spilled the beans that some city executives skimmed off his commission.
It was through the initiative of city veterinarian Tomas Forteza that gave the facility the semblance of a “A A” slaughterhouse. Forteza spent his own money procuring the immediate needs of the slaughterhouse to start it up: boots, hairnets and aprons for butchers, knives, basins, buckets, chopping boards, etc. He erected a “kubo” for workers to rest and take coffee breaks. The coffee that the workers drank came from his pocket.
The city abattoir under Forteza survived Typhoon Frank in June 2008. He and the workers ran extra miles by volunteering to repair the access road and scoop out thick layers of silt left by the flood inside the building. With him as head, the facility operated on conveyors made of chain blocks that lifted carcasses throughout the process up to the point where they were taken down for transport to waiting vans.
The conveyors broke down after the take over by Vincent De La Cruz’s group.