GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 20 May) – Amid the outrage triggered by the recent discovery of tuna soaked in pig’s blood to make them appear fresh in this city, the Tuna Capital of the Philippines, the local Muslim community urged city hall on Friday to allow Muslims to sell fish at the public market.
Sheik Ibrahim Andang Jr., chairman of the General Santos City Muslim Religious Advisory Council, expressed disgust at the unscrupulous business practice of some fish vendors caught selling tuna meat laced with pig’s blood.
“It’s deceptive. The Muslim community really felt bad upon learning they’re selling fish mixed with pig’s blood. That’s haram,” he told MindaNews.
“We heard that has been going on for some time and now it’s confirmed by our authorities. It’s high time for the local government to allow Muslims to sell fish at the public market to assure fellow Muslims that what they will be buying is halal,” he added.
Andang said that “there has been no Muslim fish vendors at the city’s biggest public market” as the stalls at the fish section have been awarded to Christian vendors.
Another suggestion he dangled was the establishment of a halal section at the public market, noting that several major malls in the city have put up dedicated halal lanes in deference to the Muslim consumers.
Last May 15, the city government, through the Market Enforcers and Inspection Team, caught four stall owners selling tuna meat coated with pig’s blood.
In an interview with local Brigada News TV, Mudin Puyat, a market inspector, said they padlocked six stalls selling sliced tuna parts leased to four stallholders due to the presence of pig’s blood in their products.
“They use the pig’s blood as artificial coloring to make the tuna products appear fresh,” he said.
Pig’s blood was also found at the ice boxes where they stored the tuna meat, he added.
Puyat said they conducted an inspection following a complaint from the General Santos City Market Vendors’ Association that some fish vendors have been doing unscrupulous business practices, including inaccurate weighing scales.
With the public outrage not just from the Muslim community, the local government padlocked stall numbers 140/141 (one stallholder), 139, 143, and 145/146 (one stallholder), all at the fish section of the Central Public Market.
In a statement, the GenSan LGU said the market committee is still deciding whether to revoke the lease agreement issued to the four erring stallholders.
This city, touted as the Tuna Capital of the Philippines, hosts six of the country’s seven tuna canneries and exports large mature sashimi-grade fresh tuna to the United States, among others.
The mature tuna stocks that do not qualify for the export market are distributed and sold in various domestic markets of the country. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)