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City slaughterhouses public health risks


BY PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER

I’m a resident of Iloilo City but still ignorant of traffic regulations. A loading/unloading zone now becomes a ticket zone later. That happened to the Mandurriao-Iloilo jeepney which stopped at the front of the Consing ancestral house in Molo, fronting the plaza and the Catholic church. The place has been a loading/unloading area throughout as far as yours truly knows but for strange reasons, a traffic aide apprehended the driver, at around 7:45 am of June 5. There were Baluarte jeepneys behind and ahead of the Mandurriao-Iloilo PUJ. A passenger at the front seat chided the enforcer in Tagalog accented Hiligaynon for being selective.

The driver could only scratch his head. He was P200 poorer with the citation should he reclaim his license at the traffic mismanagement office which has the good habit of taking back receipts from payers before the latter could receive back their licenses that, in effect, provoke suspicion that the same receipts are being recycled for profit.

That reminds me to press harder on the Mabilog administration’s lackadaisical management of the day-to-day affairs of the city, let alone traffic. Let’s take its abattoirs.

Passi, which became city in 1997, may overtake Iloilo City in the accreditation of hotels to five-star should investors dare build one there. The reason: it has an abattoir that the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) accredited to process pork and cattle.

The two in Iloilo City that mayor Jedd Patrick Mabilog touts around as “My City My Pride” have none of that.

Monterey, one of the country’s largest producers of beef and pork, contracted the Passi City abattoir as its exclusive processor in Western Visayas. Every morning, a fleet of refrigerated vans load frozen choice cuts of beef and pork which they distribute throughout Western Visayas and even, to as far as Cebu and Manila.

Then mayor Jesrey Palmares erected the abattoir for P45 million in 2003. The facility is earning. Other hog and cattle producers likewise patronize the Passi City abattoir.

Meanwhile, the NMIS refuses to accredit the two slaughterhouses of Iloilo City. One of them, at Molo district, which processes cattle, is so unsanitary. It has no running water and liquid and solid waste treatment facility; it disposes of its liquid wastes directly into the Iloilo River; the carcasses of animals are simply strewn into the concrete floor along with sludge and filth. Its workers don’t wear protected gears such as boots and hard hats.

The other slaughterhouse of My City My Price lies in Pagsanga-an, Pavia, not Tacas, Jaro as Mabilog and his ilk would like us to believe. It was earlier bruited around as “world class” but it approximates none of that.

Before 2010, when it was headed by city veterinarian Tomas Forteza, it had three trained butchers, a functioning conveyor system of chain blocks and all its workers wore boots, aprons and hard hats for personal safety and public hygiene.

When Mabilog took over, among his first move was boot out Forteza and his trained staff and replaced them with a crew of his own led by Vincent De La Cruz, a distant relative whom he promoted as its OIC.

Mabilog and his ilk orchestrated a scenario consisting of media blitzes portraying Forteza and companhy as thieves. The veterinarian silently packed up all his paraphernalia – knives, hard hats, boots, pails, fiber glass containers, stainless basins, chairs, tables, and cutting boards, among others. He also dismantled his kiosk. It turned out that the abattoir could not have started had it not been for Dr. Forteza who spent his own resources buying those wherewithals just to start up the facility. He also expended his own cash sending three workers to train in Bulacan in meat processing.

Today, the abattoir is in sordid state. The chain blocks are in disrepair and lately, the boiler conked out. Carcasses are strewn on the concrete floor along with filth as they are being cleaned and cut by half-naked butchers wearing only slippers and shorts, sans hard hats, aprons nor boots. The workers were untrained and their first feat was bust the chain block conveyors.

The pork processed from the slaughterhouse at Pagsanga-an, Pavia and beef at Molo both owned by the City, put public health to grave risk.

Sagad pasikat!

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