ON THE motion of Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, the Senate agriculture committee on Tuesday urged the agriculture department to have the President declare a national state of emergency due to the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak that has cost about P50 billion in swine industry losses.
“We move that the Department of Agriculture (DA) recommend to the Office of the President the declaration of a state of emergency in Luzon because of the African swine [fever] so that public funds may be realigned to address the state of emergency,” Pangilinan said during the hearing on the rise of food prices.
The motion was duly seconded by Senator Nancy Binay and supported by the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, Senator Cynthia Villar.
On the suggestion of the National Federation of Hog Farmers’ Chester Warren Tan, the senators also agreed that a state of emergency should be declared not just in Luzon, but in the entire Philippines.
Pangilinan said this executive action would provide additional funding and address the concerns of the hog industry.
“Ngayon ang computation 50 plus billion [pesos] na ang danyos sa industriya ng pagbababoy. Dapang-dapa na kaya dapat meron talagang ilalabas na funding and support because of the emergency,” said Pangilinan.
“Precisely yung pandemic, kaya tayo nakapaglaan ng pondo sa pandemya dahil nga may declaration of a state of emergency, he added.
Pangilinan recalled that a declaration of a state of emergency was issued by Malacañang during the onslaught of the cocolisap infestation in 2014, enabling government to reallocate funds to address the outbreak that cost P33 billion in damages.
“When the cocolisap outbreak happened, mahigit tatlumpu’t tatlong bilyong pisong halaga ng danyos ang nangyayari sa coconut industry, Malacañang, on our recommendation declared a state of emergency and we were able to reallocate funding so that we could address the outbreak of cocolisap,” said the former chairman of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).
In 2014, President Benigno Aquino III issued Executive Order 169 that established emergency measures to control and manage the spread and damage of the cocolisap infestation in the Philippines.
In response to Pangilinan’s motion, DA Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the department agrees with such a declaration.
“Maganda talaga yung public declaration of a state of emergency kasi nakita natin nung huling hearing doon sa 28 billion, eh 27.5 billion ang pautang. Ang danyos is 56 billion pero ang pondong ipinalalabas ay 500 million. So this public emergency declaration will now address yung karampot na pondong napakaliit na ilalaan na hindi pautang. Yun ang dapat,” said Pangilinan.
The former Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization also said that import tariffs should be utilized to support the funding for the public emergency declaration.
Former Congressman Nicanor Briones of the Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines (AGAP) suggested to include in the motion an indemnification fund for infected hogs of ASF.
“Napaka importante ng indemnification fund para po kusang mag-declare ng state of emergency ng swine fever at yun pong backyard raisers, sabay-sabay pong mag-aalaga, babalik iyan kasi mayroong guarantee na hindi sila maba-bankrupt in case na tamaan sila ng African swine fever,” said Briones.
Pangilinan manifested that the indemnification fund be included in the public emergency declaration, to which Senate agriculture committee chairperson Villar agreed.