BY PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER
Every time somebody mutters “my city my pride”, I am reminded by the Iloilo City abattoir which is an embarrassment.
It is riddled with corruption and fraught with risks to public health. It’s dirty and Pavianhons tag it an undesirable neighbor due to its solid and liquid wastes seeping to ditches instead of septic tank.
Whoever may sit as new mayor of Iloilo City come July, must investigate the abattoir that incidentally sits in of Pavia town, Iloilo, not Tacas, Jaro City. Government poured some P80 million to erect and jump start it in 2008.
Its operation was delayed by typhoon Frank that devastated Iloilo City in June 2008. While families grieved for the 300 or so victims of the calamity, the city government re-gravelled the access road with the abattoir crew helping. Despite lack of funds, its head, Dr. Tomas Forteza, jump-started the abattoir by spending his own money to buy butcher’s knives, buckets,boots, aprons, hard huts and chopping boards, among others.
Forteza, also city veterinarian, built a hut that served as workers’ lounge where they congregated during breaks for hot coffee, again courtesy of the city veterinarian.
Forteza’s crew was led by a team of butchers who trained in Bulacan, again, from his personal pocket. Consumers were assured that the pork processed by the city abattoir was safe. The facility had a conveyor and chain blocks that moved the suspended carcases to the different stages of processing until the end of the line, where a group of workers in rubber boots and hard hats, unhooked the carcasses and loaded them on vans, which in turn, transported them to different markets all stamped safe by the city veterinarian.
When Mayor Jed Mabilog assumed office July 1, 2010, his first act was mobilizing the group of Vincent De La Cruz, then in-charge of the Central Market, to spin the yarn that the city abattoir was riddled with anomalies. Though their tale was unsubstantiated, that signalled their coup d’etat: they barged into the abattoir and announced that a new management was taking over.
The result was disastrous. Forteza and his crew walked out in disgust together with all the wherewithal that his money had bought – knives, chopping boards, aprons, hard huts, boots, buckets, etc. He also tore down the workers’ lounge.
The newcomers were untrained in hygienic and mechanized butchering and their first achievement was to wreck the conveyor and chain blocks on day one.
Instead of winding up work by 2 am, work stretches until dawn. Carcases of hogs are no longer suspended by the chain blocks but strewn to the floor along with slime and grime.
By the middle of 2012, Mabilog announced the “modernization” of the abattoir from the P100 million poured by the national government, through the lobby of Sen. Franklin Drilon. Before the year ended, the new conveyor system and chain blocks conked out throwing back procedure to the primitive system.
The National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) still refuses to accredit the city abattoir, which means, the meat it ships out is fraught with risks to public health.
Rommel Ynion, should luck be on him this May, should investigate why despite the P100 million to rehabilitate the abattoir, the abattoir still continues to be a ticking time bomb for public health.
Consumers prefer the meat from the abattoirs of Oton, San Miguel, Pavia and Leganes.