MANILA—The Department of Agriculture on Saturday said it plans to investigate what it considers a "serious" quarantine violation in connection with canned meat seized from a returning overseas Filipino worker.
The returning worker from Hong Kong had reached out to broadcaster Raffy Tulfo in his television program, "Raffy Tulfo in Action," where the worker complained that the meat she brought into the country was held at Clark Airport on May 20.
The package was returned to the OFW the day after the interview, which was uploaded online Friday.
“Gusto ko lang isupalpal sa mukha nitong mga istupido . . . sorry for the word — bobo, at mga robot na mga taga Bureau of Customs at taga-Clark Airport na sunud-sunuran sa kautusan. Salamat sa Bureau of Customs pinaunlakan tayo, ayan na po ’yung delata ni ma’am," Tulfo said.
The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has tightened its security against the entry of pork meat into the country due to cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks in Cambodia, China, and Hong Kong.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, in a statement he posted on Facebook, said he considers Tulfo a friend, but he would have to order a probe into the incident because it was a "serious" violation of quarantine laws.
"Worse, Raffy Tulfo used his influence as a media man to have the confiscated items released by the Bureau of Customs and returned these to the OFW who went to his radio program to complain," he said.
Piñol also defended the quarantine officers and said they were just doing their job.
"Maski ako na Secretary of Agriculture ay hindi nanghihimasok sa mga quarantine officers sa kanilang pagganap ng kanilang tungkulin at hindi tama na murahin sila ninuman dahil ginagawa lamang nila ang kanilang trabaho," he said.
"Meron po kaparusahan na P200,000 ang pagpasok ng mga ipinagbabawal na karne sa ating bansa at ang ating mga Quarantine Officers ang may tanging kapangyarihan na kumpiskahin ito."
Piñol said quarantine and police officers will track down the OFW to prevent the consumption of the luncheon meat.
"Nananawagan po ako sa mga nakakakilala sa OFW na kung maari ay pagsabihan na huwag buksan ang mga de lata na maling. Ito ay dahil kung ang tira-tira na maling ay maipakain sa mga baboy sa probinsya maaring kumalat ang ASF," he said.
Tulfo says he was only concerned for OFWs
Tulfo, in his program, said he also spoke with Clark Airport president Jaime Melo, whom he pressed to explain why authorities were confiscating goods from OFWs when there are supposedly imported ones being sold in groceries.
"Ma Ling is Ma Ling. Kompiskahin niyo muna 'yung Ma Ling dyan sa mga grocery store, sasamahan ko kayo," Tulfo said.
"Sana lahat ng meat products pati 'yung corned beef galing sa America kumpiskahin na rin kung ganu'n."
The broadcaster said he was only concerned for OFWs who rarely get to return home.
"Sana inintindi niyo na lang 'yung sitwasyon ng OFWs. Bihira silang makauwi dito at 'pag nakauwi sila dito dadala ng pasalubong 'yan tapos ngayon ipagkakait niyo," he said.
Tulfo said he has spoken with BAI officials regarding ASF and mistakenly called it "foot and mouth disease."
"Itong BAI kung hindi talaga saksakan ng pagkabobo, meron daw silang advisory du'n sa airport. Sabi ko, nakarating na 'yung de lata, sana 'yung advisory du'n pa lang sa bansa na pinanggalingan nila," he said.
"Kung kailangan niyo po ng information dissemination, gamitin kami sa media, libre, i-disseminate namin. 'wag na ho kayong magdala ng Ma Ling or China-made 'wag na, 'yung US-made na lang, kasi kukumpiskahin 'yan."