The Provincial Veterinary Office (ProVet) said that there is no law that says carabao meat can’t be used to make corned beef, and the shipment from Liminangcong, Taytay, to Manila passed the health permit and loading procedures.
ProVet’s clarification followed the Palawan Animal Welfare Foundation’s (PAWF) online post yesterday, which claimed that the confirmed July 10 shipment of carabaos was for corned beef manufacturing, deceiving customers. The Philippine-Belgian Welfare Foundation is a non-profit organization that advocates for animal rights and welfare.
Dr. Darius Mangcucang, the provincial veterinarian, said that the shipment mentioned was inspected by ProVet. He also said that it had all of the necessary permits and clearances, such as from the Philippine National Police (PNP), certification from the barangay, a shipping permit, and a veterinary health certificate.
The carabaos that were brought to Manila can be slaughtered no matter what they will be used for. This is because they met the “7-11 slaughter ban,” which says that only carabaos older than seven years for males and eleven years for females can be killed.
“May permit ‘yan, kumpleto ‘yan. Wala kasi tayong biyahe ng Puerto to Manila kaya Liminangcong ang available at ‘yan ang mas malapit sa Manila, mas short travel siya sa large animals. Iyan ay hindi pwedeng makalabas kung walang kumpletong dokyumento– chini-check namin kung may mga batang kalabaw,” he said.
“Hindi ko alam kung saan na napupunta (carabao meat) basta ‘yan ay diretso sa slaughterhouse. Hindi na namin alam kung anong ginagawa diyan, ang alam namin pambenta ‘yan, pangkatay. Kung meron mga company na bumibili, wala na tayo doon,” he added.
The province of Palawan has no ordinance prohibiting the sale of carabaos as long as it is qualified under the said slaughter ban. It is derived from Executive Order (EO) No. 626 in 1980, amending EO No. 234 in 1970.
But animal rights activist and PAWF founder Jacqueline Baut said that, on the contrary, there were carabaos in the shipment that were underage. Their shipper also violated animal welfare because they were in areas of the vessel where they couldn’t lie down, and ropes were tied around their nostrils.
“No, not at all. They don’t care, they put any age—on June 26, I went there in Liminangcong and I saw underage carabaos in the shipment of only one shipper—in the picture, you can see that they are very squeezed,” she said.
Despite the fact that there is no legislation preventing the use of carabeef or carabao meat in corned beef, Baut suggested that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) review the ingredient alignment on the labels.
“It is used for corned beef because there is no other reason to send so many carabaos if they will not go to the market, to the slaughterhouse–only to find out that they are only going to the slaughterhouse for the corned beef. The shippers also told me that they are processed into corned beef. There are no other possibilities,” she said.
In a video shared by PAWF also on July 20, but recorded on June 26 at the port of Liminangcong, a female carabao can be seen falling hard to the ground after being dragged forcefully by a man.
PAWF claimed the female carabao was only three years old, and should not be shipped for slaughtering since the required age is 11 years old.
Behind the camera, Baut can be heard reprimanding the man for what transpired.
“Booo, very professional. Again, once again… very young,” she said, referring to the female carabao’s age.
ProVet, on the other hand, only allows the slaughtering of younger carabaos in some cases if they have caused injuries or casualties, particularly male carabaos. Mangcucang added that ProVet has personnel in Liminangcong who also check the handling of animals upon loading.
He further explained that about 12 carabaos are loaded into trucks to avoid spaces that will lead to animals falling and breaking their bones during the travel period.
“Dapat ‘yan dikit-dikit kapag binabiyahe para hindi sila magkaalog-alog–kapag nag-alon, biglang madulas ‘yan, mababalian ‘yan. Pero kapag dikit-dikit ‘yan, gagalaw-galaw lang ‘yan. Ang loading, okay naman, wala naman narireport sa amin na nadidisgrasya ‘yong hayop,” he said.
Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data, the average farmgate price of carabao for slaughter was around P142 per kilogram for liveweight from January to March 2022.