Press Releases

Double dead or double talk
The Philippine STAR
March 7, 2012
Cito Beltran

Do we really have a problem with “double dead” meat or are we being conditioned by people who have been trained in the art of “double talk”, or even double cross?. Last Monday, the early morning news once again featured a “botcha” story is, it’s any news item that talks about double dead meat being sold to the public.

Normally, when it comes to public health threats, I strongly support local and national government action or intervention because it involves lives. But after hearing all the feature stories on botcha or double dead meat being confiscated, I have seriously started to suspect that someone or some group is financing or helping promote media coverage of “botcha” stories. Consider the fact that at least one if not two major networks have consistently carried such stories in spite of the fact that such stories are not in the same category as impeachment trials. Yet every month, if not every two weeks, botcha stories are hyped up on TV and radio. Once the actual sale of botcha stories dried up, then came the “drive” to force market vendors to have freezers for their fresh meat. This week, the new angle is on alleged “carabao botcha”. Since I have been closely monitoring these developments, I’ve picked up several “angels’ that make the whole coverage and LGU drive against botcha highly suspicious.” First not all reported incidents about “botcha” are accurate. Technically speaking, “botcha” is about double dead meat or previously dead animals being slaughtered and sold. However in several cases of reported “botcha” raids, the issue was about the sale of freshly slaughtered meat that did not go through the official local veterinarian’s office or the NMIS or National Meat Inspection Service. There is even reason to believe that the NMIS representatives or local veterinarians used the term “botcha” to simplify matters and to excite or legitimize matters to reporters who went along for the ride. There are conflicting view about such raids as being mere publicity stunts of ambitious NMIS officials and some local veterinarians gunning for promotions or who want to see their faces on TV. Some sources within these organizations have told me that their bosses actually affected the sales of meat in public markets. Another argument against the raids has to do with the current system where animal suppliers are forced or required to transport animals “live” and then have them slaughtered only at the city or municipality slaughterhouse in the place of delivery or sale. This is actually designed to create income for the local government unit that collects fees and charges for the slaughter and the certificate. I wonder what we will discover when we investigate who has the franchise or the permit for the slaughterhouse in Metro Manila? In exchange for the economic interest of cities and municipalities, thousand of suppliers are forced to spend millions in the inefficient transport of live animals. The system also results in further losses when the animals suffer weight loss through dehydration or actual death, which is one reason some transporters slaughter animals that are affected by the heat. What many Filipinos in Metro Manila don’t realize is we are the one’s paying for the inefficiency and losses through high food cost! In a time when there is so much talk about BIO security and animal welfare, ahs anyone in Congress ever wondered just how safe it is to be transporting live animals from different parts of the country and bringing them all into Metro Manila? So far we have ambitious publicity seeking government officials on one hand and local government officials who want to generate fees and charges at the expense of producers, suppliers and consumers. But the story continues, another group interested in fanning the flames on “botcha” are the organized group of SMUGGLERS who are known for their cheap, under priced, frozen delights. In a market situation where the common practice is to buy fresh warm meat, selling frozen meats is one tell tale signs that the meat could be old or imported and smuggled meat. By scaring people about “botcha”, the next logical move would be to promote or impose the use of freezers in every meat stall for “health” concerns. Once again there are two schools of thought on the ,matter. Some regulators, believe that freezers will prevent spoilage and won’t necessarily “hide” smuggled meat because once frozen meat thaws or arms up it will eventually spoil. The problem there is based on the assumption I  that the smuggled meat will ever warm up. Since the smugglers know that, they would be to their disadvanatage and therefore they would also train their vendors on the matter! So we have that some have to assume that some well- meaning government regulators have been hoodwinked or are in cahoots with smugglers so that their frozen meat can penetrate the market without being noticed. The problem with the freezer requirement is that it burdens vendors with additional costs such as buying freezers and high electricity costs. While the pubic end up having to take the risks and pay the entire price. In the end all these news and talk about double dead meat is beginning to look more like me a “Double cross one carried by the producers and another carried by the consumers. Now I know how jesus felt. We are crucified between thieves in government and thieves who seal from government known as smiugglers.