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City keeps eye vs stray dogs, hot meat, illegal vendors

By Jason B. Neola

NAGA CITY — This pilgrim city since last week began identifying roads and parcels of lots where ambulant vendors coming from outside of the city will be allowed to display and sell their wares.

The effort is being undertaken to prevent them from occupying areas that, if not given appropriate action, would affect the flow of any civic or religious activity that forms part the grand celebration of the annual Peñafrancia fiesta.

Considered as Bicolandia’s biggest annual regional event, this year’s Penafrancia festivities will be held from September 1-22. It is believed to surpass the volume of guests, pilgrims and devotees that it had last year as it was traditionally observed that the number of guests increases every year. Police calculated a crowd estimate of 2.5 million people coming to the city this year.

Police Senior Inspector Romeo Benito A. Hugo, head of Task Force COMET, which stands for city ordinance monitoring, enforcement and tracking, said that they are now completing the task which Mayor John Bongat referred to as “among the priorities that need to be taken care of to see to it that roads and passageways are unobstructed during the conduct of fiesta-related events.”

“My group, which consists of personnel from the PNP, PSO, and the Punong Barangays, will confiscate products and goods being sold in prohibited areas and issue citation tickets to errant vendors. We shall be unforgiving to violators because the task force has been formed exactly to go after violators,” he said.

Hugo also said that the task force will also assist establishment owners who do not want their front areas to be occupied by transient vendors.

Hot meat

In related development, the City Veterinary Office (CVO) is strengthening the monitoring of hot and contaminated meat in view of the expected increase in the demand and consumption of the product in the following days because of the fiesta.

City Veterinarian Junios Elad Jr. has assured the public that his team of meat inspectors will be fielded frequently to examine meat products being sold in various malls, satellite markets, and other areas in the barangays and the Naga City People’s Mall where large volume of the stuff is traditionally transported to the city during Peñafrancia fiesta.

Elad said, on the case of contaminated or unclean meat, his office will intensify the conduct of examination of animals due to be slaughtered at the Naga City Abattoir. This will immediately prevent the selling of the animals’ meat in the market once found unfit for human consumption.

Aside from such inspection, the CVO also conducts appropriate checking that would enable them to identify and segregate the clean meat products from those produced from backyard butchering and other slaughterhouses outside the city. “This is because meat products not from the city abattoir are treated as hot meat and unclean unless they come from ‘Double A’ or ‘Triple A’ abattoirs, which are fully equipped with tools, facilities and manpower skills in handling meat delivery.

Elad explained that their post-abattoir inspection activity is also necessary “as there are unscrupulous vendors who mix safe and quality meat products with contaminated ones and sell them to unsuspecting buyers.”

The CVO chief also warned the meat vendors to stop from doing their nefarious trade; else they will be fined and/or slapped with appropriate charges under RA 9296, the Meat Inspection Code of the Philippines and City Ordinance 2002-065.

Both measures prescribe ante mortem and post mortem inspection fees for all livestock and poultry and prohibit the sale of “hot meat.” The city ordinance was authored by Mayor John G. Bongat when he was still city councilor.

Section 5 of the ordinance said: “Only meat slaughtered at the Naga City Abattoir and in any other slaughterhouse accredited by the National Meat Inspection Commission (NMIC), which have made prior coordination with the Naga City Government, may be sold for public consumption in Naga City.”

The ordinance provides under its penalty provision that: “Any person found violating Section 5 of this ordinance shall be meted with the following penalties; 1st offense – confiscation of the meat products and a fine of not less than P2,000 but not more than P3,000 or an imprisonment of not less than 1 month but not more than 3 months or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court; 2nd offense – confiscation of the product and a fine of not less than P3,000 but not more than P4,000 or an imprisonment of not less than 3 months but not more than 6 months or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court; 3rd offense – confiscation of the product and a fine of not less than P4,000 but not more than P5,000 or an imprisonment of not less than 6 months but not more than 1year or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court.”

At present, the CVO is pushing for the ratification of a proposed ordinance which will require all livestock and meat transport vehicles to secure accreditation from the city government in such a way that they can easily be identified while transporting meat to the city by meat inspectors in the streets.

Stray dogs

On stray dogs, the CVO’s dog pound team continues to pursue its sustained stray dog elimination activity. The city veterinarian said that with the forthcoming fiesta celebration, the effort is being intensified to safeguard the public from being bitten by stray dogs.

The team registered an average of 14 impounded dogs per week for its dog elimination activity which is being undertaken twice a week during ordinary days. From the period of January-August 2016, it was able to recover and impound 106 stray dogs. The dog owners are given 3 days to redeem their pets.