Bus personnel offload two boxes of meat declared as mechanically deboned chicken after the conductor noticed the box was wet and he got sucpicious about the baggage, Bohol officials have asked the bus companies their help in keeping Bohol ASF free. (PIA Bohol/ contributed photo)
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, Nov. 15 (PIA) -- Authorities of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Carmen town successfully intercepted and confiscated some 110 kilos of processed pork meat consigned to a woman in Guinacot, Guindulman, amidst strengthening of Bohol's biosecurity measures against the entry of the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF).
While the products were not tested for the presence of ASF which could potentially spread the virus if it were tested here, the consignee of the shipment voluntarily surrendered the questionable shipment for destruction and proper disposition.
The shipment apparently slipped through the inspections in the provinces and in Ubay, as it was packed in two boxes and were stowed under the cargo hold of the running board of Mega Bus Lines from Quezon City.
It was only when the bus arrived in Carmen on Oct. 26 when another passenger took baggage from under the bus' cargo hold that the bus conductor noticed the two big boxes that were wet and dripping, according to Provincial veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapiz.
"It was good that we earlier gathered bus operators and drivers, soliciting their help in monitoring passengers bringing in pork meat or processed pork meat, especially from Luzon where several provinces have reportedly been under tight ASF watch," Lapiz said.
The bus driver then immediately called on their local contacts to properly inform the consignee about the package and to witness the opening of the suspicious package at the Carmen police station where they had the boxes stored for safe keeping.
That same day, with the consignee and the local agriculture authorities, they opened the consignment which were declared frozen chicken mechanically deboned meat (MDM) and went through the "fit for consumption" certificate by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) as shown by the attached control number 1063942-19.
BURNED AND BURIED. Agriculture authorities in Carmen town intercepted and discovered a package mis-declared as chicken but turned out to be proceeds pork meat from Canada. The consignee voluntarily surrendered the package for destruction and proper disposition. Smuggling ASF contaminated meat can fetch up to P200,000 in penalties. (PIA Bohol/MAO Carmen)
The chicken meat, with Dunn-Rite brand imported by DEA Meat Trading from Canada and repacked by a company called Export Packers Limited of Canada, was later found to contain 50 packs of pork longaniza, 40 packs of skinless longaniza, 40 packs of pork longadog, 40 packs of chicken longadog, 20 packs of baloney (bologna variation), 20 packs of siomai, 20 packs of embutido, and 30 pieces of rolled ham.
Apart from mis-declaration of goods, the consignment did not also have a shipping permit and the company did not have a license to operate in the Philippines, and a possible violation of the tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, according to Carmen Municipal Agriculturist Arlene Cabusao and veterinarian Dr. Jerome Limbaga in their incident report.
Having been lectured on the possible implications of her keeping the consignment and the possibility of spreading a virus so fatal to the local hogs and killing a multi-billion backyard industry, the consignee voluntarily surrendered the shipment for proper disposition.
In the absence of laboratories and the technology to test the meat, authorities proceeded to burn the processed pork meat and bury them in a municipal-owned lot in town.
Over this, Lapiz thanked the bus authorities for their vigilance even as the incident has also presented an opportunity to change the loading cargo protocols for bus companies.
At that, hard work paid off for Bohol's anti-ASF campaign which has the Office of the Provincial Veterinaran (OPV) insisting that reporting information on the dreaded hog disease is no over-reaction.