Iloilo, both city and province, has no “AAA” or “triple A” abattoir. All it has is the lonesome “AA” in Passi City.
Passi erected its slaughterhouse sometime in 2003 at P45 million. Critics rued it was “overpriced” but somehow, its local chief executive Jesry Palmares managed to overcome that as the facility became an income earner after notching an exclusive contract with Monterey, the country’s major producer of frozen choice cuts of pork and beef.
The National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) accredited the Passi slaughterhouse “AAA” until about two years ago when the national government entity downgraded it to “AA”.
Iloilo City’s abattoir already absorbed over P200 million funding, first in the time of Jerry Trenas (2001 – 2010) and later his successor and still incumbent mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog. Despite the huge money it has gobbled up, the city abattoir at Tacas, Pavia, never went beyond single A.
The provincial veterinary quotes the NMIS classification of abattoir to be based on the authority-to-market. Triple A means it can export frozen cuts to other countries, double A the abattoir is authorized to ship outside Iloilo, and single A only within its territorial jurisdiction like that of Iloilo City which is only allowed to distribute meat to markets within the city, explains Dr. Tabuada, assistant provincial veterinarian.
He adds that three more double A abattoir are being constructed all owned by the municipalities – San Joaquin whose facility is almost done, Barotac Viejo and Barotac Nuevo.
During the time of Trenas, Iloilo city’s abattoir enjoyed “AA” accreditation with three personnel having trained in Bulacan and headed by a veterinarian Tomas Forteza. After Mabilog took over the city, however, the facility which was earning in Trenas’s time plummeted in quality.
Mabilog ‘s seat hadn’t warmed up yet in 2010 when he ordered a group of persons from his place in Molo district to take over and unceremoniously eased out the workers appointed by Trenas.
The new crew, headed by one Vincent De La Cruz, took only two months to demolish what Dr. Forteza had established. The chain block where the animals are processed while suspended above the floor, and also serving as conveyor, conked out. Workers no longer wore protective gears like rubber boots, hard hats, aprons and gloves and reverted to the primitive way of butchering and processing carcasses on the floor mixing them up with sludge and dung. The workers no longer don protective gears some only in short pants and slippers and many times shirtless.
The waste disposal system, despite the additional P100 million from the pork barrel of Senate President Franklin Drilon, deteriorated as well and the facility is now an object of complaints from Pavianhons (it is located in Pavia town) due to the foul smell emanating from it.
Dr. Forteza resigned from the abattoir and returned to his mother unit, the city veterinary which he heads. He brought along with him butcher knives, chopping boards, buckets and fiberglass basins, boots, aprons and hard hats all of which he bought from his own pocket if only to start up the facility. He also tore down the staff bunker, a sort of rest house, which he erected on his own.
With this development, Passi City’s abattoir will continue enjoying the lucrative contract with Monterey.
Three other abattoirs expected to be rated “AA” will soon be joining the market in Iloilo which has been tagged as the biggest supplier of hogs to Manila, Cebu and Davao, three biggest cities in the Philippines.
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