Friday, June 26, 2015

President Aquino says he wants to focus on governing, does not want to be distracted by politics

From the Website of PIA

President Aquino says he wants to focus on governing, does not want to be distracted by politics

MANILA, June 26 -- President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday encouraged participants of the Livestock Philippines 2015 Expo and Conference "to fully explore the possibilities and to look for opportunities" to develop a more robust livestock industry in the country.

"It is only through the help of the stakeholders in this room that we can sustain the growth of this industry, as well as the quality of our livestock and poultry. This is why I encourage all of you to make the most of this opportunity: to continue sharing your ideas and best practices towards creating a livestock industry, and consequently, a Philippines that we can be proud to bequeath to future generations," President Aquino said after opening the expo at the SMX Conference Center in Pasay City.

Also gracing the opening of the exhibition were Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, Agriculture Undersecretary for Livestock Jose Reano, United Business Media's President Muthiah Gandhi, and SMX General Manager Dexter Deyto.

More than 200 brands of meat products from 18 countries are joining the Livestock Philippines 2015, a three-day event hosted by the Department of Agriculture and its attached agencies, the Bureau of Animal Industry, and the National Meat Inspection Service.

In his speech, President Aquino highlighted the government's initiatives on food safety.

"As you know, the Philippines has been performing very well in terms of food safety. Our country has been free from Avian Flu since 2005, and of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) since 2010. These achievements alone make us eligible to export meat,” he said.

“On top of this, however, just last month, the World Organization for Animal Health accorded us the highest level of recognition as a country free from FMD without vaccination, which further increases our competitiveness," he said, adding that only three other ASEAN countries could boast of this recognition.

The goal now, he said, is not only to maintain these standards, but also to ensure that the country’s livestock sector continues to grow.

President Aquino further noted that the government has invested a lot in livestock and poultry.

"Over the course of our term, we have increased the budget of this sector by 108 percent. This has given us the wherewithal to increase focus on animal health by providing vaccinations and undertaking disease surveillance, among other measures, to control, if not eradicate, these animal diseases," he explained.

The Chief Executive also mentioned that key legislation have been passed to promote food safety.

“With the help of allies from Congress, we amended the Meat Inspection Code, which imposes stricter fines for food safety violations, perhaps most prominently the transport or sale of the so-called ‘hot meat’. There is also the Food Safety Act of 2013, which strengthens our food regulatory system to better protect consumer health and facilitate our food exports," he said.

"As we have taken deliberate measures to improve the safety and security of our food supply, it is also necessary to find ways to maximize the benefits of our eligibility as a meat exporter. This is why the Department of Agriculture is pursuing two large scale projects that will help us in this regard, namely, the AAA poultry dressing plant project in Bamban, Tarlac, worth P120 million, and the AAA slaughterhouse project in Tanauan, Batangas, worth P150 million. Both of these projects are expected to be completed within the year," he further said.

Livestock Philippines 2015 also features the first ASEAN Food Conference in connection with the recently implemented ASEAN Economic Cooperation (AEC). Delegates from 10 ASEAN member states are expected to discuss the present challenges and opportunities of the AEC.

Carrying the theme "Farm-to-Shelf", the Livestock Philippines Expo and Conference will also hold the Feeds Expo, Food Processing and Packaging Expo, and PhilMeat Expo and Technical Seminar.

Feeds Expo will focus on animal feeds and feed ingredients, additives, supplements and premixes, feed quality control and feed manufacturing; Food Processing and Packaging Expo will showcase the newest trends on food processing, ingredients and packaging; while PhilMeat will present the latest innovations on meat processing and packaging. (PCOO/PND (jm)

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