MANILA - A group of Filipino meat processors appealed on Friday to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for help, warning their inventory of processed products has dwindled to only 15 days or less.
Rex Agarrado, spokesperson of Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI), said in a letter that this was due to the sudden demand for their products and travel restrictions, following the announcement of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon this week.
While the inter-agency task force (IATF) has ordered authorities to ensure unhampered passage of food products and raw ingredients, Agarrado said they are unable to receive raw materials for packaging due to the quarantine, citing difficulties of company shuttle services getting through checkpoints.
“It’s just that the LGUs (local government units) at this point who are manning the checkpoints do not recognize tin cans, do not recognize carton boxes, do not recognize labels, do not recognize flexible films, as byproducts of food production. Our systems are shutting down because it cannot get through,” he said.
"We have to make clear to the LGUs na ang lata is part of food production."
Agarrado also appealed to the Bureau of Customs as their imported raw materials are held up at ports because their brokers are not authorized to travel.
“Please recognize that yung spices na yun, they are part of the product. Without the spices, we cannot give you the corned beef, we cannot give you the meatloaf, we could not give you the tuna,” he said.
Because of the impact on their operations, Agarrado said at least one company in their group has suspended its operations, and that another will close this weekend.
He also warned that if their operations are still hampered, they won't be able to supply retailers, which might lead to a severe shortage of their processed meat products by mid-April.
"We thus leave it to you and the IATF to determine if our situation is salvageable," Agarrado said.
Last Tuesday, DTI chief Ramon Lopez said only producers of basic goods needed in the time of COVID-19-- like food, medicine, disinfectants -- will be allowed to continue manufacturing operations under the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.
He said reports of trucks and other vehicles stopped from transporting necessities to other provinces, including Metro Manila, have reached his office.
"Napaka-importante isang polisiya lamang at lalo na sa cargo...na wala nang pipigil pa sa cargo. Ganun po usapan with the military and the PNP (Philippine National Police)," Lopez said.
(It's important there's only one policy, especially for cargo...that no one will stop cargoes. That's what we talked about with the military and the PNP.) -- report from April Rafales, ABS-CBN News