Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue

Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue

Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue serves as a city councilor of Bacolod. She is a champion of the Food Safety Advocacy  which includes  her participation as a major cooperator in the Negrense Seal of Excellence  Consortium , a local endorsing/certifying  body which aims to recognize local enterprises who are compliant to standards in the areas of food and Gifts and Housewares.Commerce and Industry. She currently works for the passage of the Food Safety Ordinance of Bacolod City.

For this dyanamic and energetic councillor, Food Safety is the key to a prosperous and internationally competitive City of Bacolod.

The following is Atty. Jocelle Batapa-Sigue ‘s speech when she addressed participants during The First Visayas Food Safety Conference.

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I congratulate the organizers and participants of the first VISAYAS FOOD SAFETY CONFERENCE

I fully agree with the basic principles of these gathering today that – Food safety compliance, third party certifications and quality issues are now among the pressing concerns for sustainable growth and global competitiveness in the local food industry.

Institutional buyers both local and international require food suppliers to be compliant to standards in the conduct of business.

We need to fortify our old laws with new ideas and we need to enforce these laws.

Seeing many food service establishments continue to operate without proper sanitary standards is a failure of enforcement.

On one hand – compliance with standards such as the GMP  or Good Manufacturing Practices and HACCP or Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points – which will be among your main agenda for this conference, will ensure the sustainability of our local enterprises in the face of globalization.

I commend the the OURFood program under the partnership of the Association of Negros Producers with a German Foundation , AFOS Foundation and the Negrense Food Consultancy Group for taking the lead in harmonizing food safety standards among implementing agencies of government and private sector to increase collaboration and produce more positive results, to reduce the confusion among food enterprises, and  increase the commitment of local enterprises  to comply .

I especially congratulate and thank all those gathered today for being here and sharing our mission to make Negros Occidental and Bacolod City compliant with national and industry standards for food safety in order to be globally competitive.

For me – the key takeaway for this event – is to empower the stakeholders of the food industry to become leaders.

As cited in the book “Leadership: Pure and Simple” by David Wilkins and Greg Carolin – “Transformative leaders will require fundamental skills of leadership. An effective leader must be able to uncover and drive insight from changes specific to his or her industry and the world at large, translate this insight into an operable and sustainable strategy, underpin it with innovation, and drive it to conclusion through relentless, hard-nosed operational implementation.

Highlight must be placed on the words – able to uncover and drive insight from changes specific to his or her industry and the world at large, translate this insight into an operable and sustainable strategy. We cannot remain stagnant and continue to do the same things we do for the last decades. Innovation is key.

Hence today – let me also share with you how we as policy makers can help become game changers.

ORDINANCE EXTABLISHING FOOD SAFETY STANDARDS FOR THE CITY OF BACOLOD AND PROVIDING FUNDS THEREFOR, Implementing Republic Act No. 10611 or an “Act To Strengthen The Food Safety Regulatory System In The Country To Protect Consumer Health And Facilitate Market Access Of Local Foods And Food Products, And For Other Purposes”.

“Section 15, Article II of the 1987 Philippine Constitution declares that the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.

Furthermore, Section 9, Article XVI provides that the State shall protect consumers from trade malpractices and from substandard or hazardous products. Toward these ends, the State shall maintain a farm to fork food safety regulatory system that ensures a high level of food safety, promotes fair trade and advances the global competitiveness of Philippine foods and food products.”

Section 3 of Republic Act No. 10611 states that in order to strengthen the food safety regulatory system in the country, the State shall –

(a) Protect the public from food-borne and water-borne illnesses and unsanitary, unwholesome, misbranded or adulterated foods;

(b) Enhance industry and consumer confidence in the food regulatory system; and

(c) Achieve economic growth and development by promoting fair trade practices and sound regulatory foundation for domestic and international trade.

Hence, under the said national law, all LGUs shall be responsible for food safety in food businesses such as, but not limited to, activities in slaughterhouses, dressing plants, fish ports, wet markets, supermarkets, school canteens, restaurants, catering establishments and water refilling stations. The LGU shall also be responsible for street food sale, including ambulant vending.

The City of Bacolod is one of the most progressive cities in the country today given the dynamism of its economy and the diversity of its businesses and that it boasts of a food tourism industry.

It is to the best interest of the city its people to ensure that a comprehensive action plan is set in motion in order to protect the public from food-borne and water-borne illnesses and unsanitary, unwholesome, misbranded or adulterated foods; enhance industry and consumer confidence in the food regulatory system; and achieve economic growth and development by promoting fair trade practices and sound regulatory foundation for the City.

“The Bacolod Food Safety Ordinance” is aimed to:

  1. To provide standards and guidelines for the City to implement its mandate under Republic Act No. 10611 which states that “the LGUs shall be responsible for food safety in food businesses such as, but not limited to, activities in slaughterhouses, dressing plants, fish ports, wet markets, supermarkets, school canteens, restaurants, catering establishments and water refilling stations. The LGU shall also be responsible for street food sale, including ambulant vending”
  2. To capacitate the City to respond to the mandate of Republic Act No. 10611 which states that “the LGUs may be called upon by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to assist in the implementation of food laws, other relevant regulations”
  3. To access and maximize the roles of the DA and the DOH which shall capacitate the LGUs and provide necessary technical assistance in the implementation of their food safety functions under their jurisdiction by providing training to the City and shall periodically assess the effectiveness of these training programs in coordination with the DILG
  4. To establish a set of annual activities aimed at promoting food safety and among its constituents

Our goal is to establish a strong coordination with all line agencies in ensuring food safety.

The ordinance fully recognizes the role of the City in the enforcement of the “Code on Sanitation of the Philippines” (Presidential Decree No. 856, December 23, 1975), food safety standards and food safety regulations where food is produced, processed, prepared and/or sold in their territorial jurisdiction. This includes:

(1) Sanitation particularly in public markets, slaughterhouses, micro and small food processing establishments and public eating places;

(2) Codes of Practice for production, post harvest handling, processing and hygiene;

(3) Safe use of food additives, processing aids and sanitation chemicals; and

(4) Proper labelling of prepackaged foods.

It is my hope that we can actively participate in the training programs, standards development and other food safety activities to be undertaken by the DILG, DA, the DOH and other concerned national agencies.

Through the help of the private sector, we also foresee the implementation of EFFECTIVE TRAINING AND CONSUMER EDUCATION as well as skills training and other instructional/educational activities for food business operators, food handlers and to government personnel.

My hope is to see the passage of this Ordinance with your support and endorsement.

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