Press Release
February 4, 2013

Senate passes bill seeking to stop sale of "botcha"

The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to minimize the proliferation of double-dead meat in markets nationwide by imposing stiffer penalties on the sale, transport and handling of so-called "botcha."

Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, chairman of the Committee on Food and Agriculture and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 3388, said the proposed measure seeks to amend Republic Act No. 9296 otherwise known as the Meat Inspection Code of the Philippines.

"We need to modernize our agriculture and food laws to help protect the agriculture and the livestock industry sectors. In doing so, we will also protect the interests and safety of the buying public, the consumers who are at the end of the agricultural supply chain," Pangilinan said in his sponsorship speech.

According to Pangilinan, the enactment of the measure into law will ensure that meat and meat products are properly prepared and handled.

The measure will also ensure that Philippine regulations on meat inspection will be at par with international standards, Pangilinan explained.

Earlier, the Senate also passed on third and final reading a similar bill, Senate Bill 2746, which aims to eliminate the sale and transportation of "botcha" by requiring all meat and meat products to bear a label indicating its place of origin.

Pangilinan said the carcass or parts of carcass or food animals which were slaughtered from unregistered/unaccredited meat establishments and have not undergone the required inspection will be classified as "hot meat" under SB 3388.

Likewise, he added, undocumented, illegally shipped and unregistered carcass and meat products from other countries will be classified as "hot meat."

Pangilinan warned that violators of the act may face six months to 12 years imprisonment or a fine of P100,000 to P1 million, or both depending upon the discretion of the court.

If the offender is a corporation, association or partnerships, all of its officers will be criminally liable. In addition, their certificates of accreditation and registration will be cancelled, he said.

Public officials who violate the act will face perpetual disqualification to hold public office while foreigners found guilty of the offense will be immediately deported after service of sentence, he added.

"As our country moves up the ranks of developing nations, we must put an end to any and all practices that not only hinder our economic growth but more importantly threaten the health of our people," Pangilinan said.

"We hope that in passing this bill we will finally see an end to "botcha" and impose the appropriate sanctions on all those who participate in this unacceptable practice," he stressed.

The bill was authored by Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Pangilinan and Manny Villar. (PILAR S. MACROHON, PRIB)

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