The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a bill that seeks to eliminate the sale and distribution of hot meat or "botcha" in the country by providing stiffer penalties for violators, a press release from Congress said.
House Bill 5490, which amends Republic Act No. 9296, otherwise known as "The Meat Inspection Code of the Philippines ," also penalizes persons and entities who are engaged in the transport of hot meat.
The bill defines hot meat as the carcass or parts of carcass of food animals which were slaughtered from unregistered/unaccredited meat establishments and have not undergone the required inspection, the press release said.
Hot meat also includes undocumented, illegally shipped, and unregistered carcass and parts of carcass coming from other countries and those that are classified as hot meat by the National Meat Inspection Service, it added.
The bill penalizes any person, firm or corporation who will transport, sell or otherwise dispose of carcass, organs or parts thereof for food which have not passed ante-mortem and post-mortem inspection by competent authority.
Upon conviction violators will be imprisoned for not more than six years or pay a fine of not more than P500,000, or both, at the discretion of the court.
It also imposes the same penalty and fine upon any person, firm or corporation who shall falsify, forge or alter any accompanying certificate or other document or paper issued by the NMIS or NMIS-deputized local government personnel, or who will forge the NMIS or LGU seal or tag on said carcass, organs or parts, the press release said.
Accomplices and accessories in the crime will suffer a penalty of imprisonment of not more than three years or pay a fine of not more than P250,000, or both, at the discretion of the court.
Those who will store, transport, sell or otherwise dispose of meat and meat product which have been brought to the county without authority from the NMIS and the Bureau of Animal Industry will also be penalized, the press release said.
The bill imposes the penalty of imprisonment ranging from one year and one day to 10 years or pay a fine of not more than P1,000,000, or more than the value of the illegally imported items, or both, at the discretion of the court, it added.
Livestock and poultry farms and other meat establishments that are found guilty of involvement in the commission of the crime will suffer an additional penalty of cancellation of business permit and closure of the farm establishment as provided under the bill, the press release added.*