TWO Saturdays ago, I met with a group of meat vendors in response to a letter they sent requesting for an audience. We met at the Amphitheatre of the Baguio City Hall Park, just below the flagpole. Three issues came out after the meeting.
Issues on meat market zoning in the market because there are at least 100 meat vendors found in the carinderia building, the Rillera, outside Hanger, Block 3 and they are compliant. However, there are now meat stores outside the perimeter of the market and these have issues on their compliance with regards to meat handling and disposal.
Another issue they raised was the pricing that the meat vendors are selling wholesale and retail at the same price. This practice is threatening the other vendors as they cannot sell their goods because they cannot lower their prices.
One issue that was raised was the business permits issued. Some have a permit of being a retailer, but they are selling as wholesalers. The issue was as a hog dealer, can it also carry the permit as a wholesaler. The issue was clarified by the veterinarian that a hog raiser is selling the carcass as a whole and not as a choice cuts to the buyer. The wholesaler sells the cut meat for the main purpose of resale and the retailer is sold for the buyer’s consumption for business, for parties, or for family food regardless of the number of kilos.
That Saturday meeting has generated other meetings held with agencies involved in meat products. Some meetings were also conducted by the offices of the city to understand the situation in the meat market.
It also led to the first meeting of the meat inspection task force formed with City Executive Order 54–2020. It also led to a meeting of vendors in regards to the formation of their associations, with even a suggestion that they form one organization embracing all meat vendors, hog raisers and dealers.
Whatever it was in the past two weeks, that initial meeting at the City Hall Amphitheatre triggered the need to bring into highlight the meat market concerns. That initial meeting resulted in many more meetings.
It is now also admitted by the permits and licensing, the city veterinary and agriculture office, and others involved that the city does not have an inventory of how many meat vendors exist outside the city market. They are found in the barangay satellite markets, the talipapas, the individual meat stores and the once-a-week self-butcher hog-selling. So now in the target is to come up with an inventory before the end of the month.
It was also pointed out during the meeting of the task force that the City ordinance has been implemented. However, it was also agreed that before the end of the month, any suggested amendment should be submitted to my office for a revised ordinance. This should lead to a more responsive law where people will abide.
With the meeting of the departments and the meat vendors, it was agreed that a resolution should be drawn to have a moratorium on new meat market permits outside the perimeter of the city market. This is simply a bandaid solution while studies are being conducted on the present and future-zoning of the city market. It was clearly pointed out by the city treasurer, licensing officer, and vendors that the meat market outside the city market perimeter has a threat to sanitation and health conditions.
How far will the meetings go is not yet sure, how much can be economic gain is not ascertained, and how much can be accomplished in organizing the market can be a long way to go. Solutions should be given from all these meetings, otherwise, time and resources are wasted. And I don’t want to be part of a blah blah and may things become better.