State of Calamity declaration due to African swine fever will protect unaffected areas too: Pangilinan

THE declaration of a State of Calamity due to African swine fever (ASF) will not only free up badly needed funds in order for local hog raisers to address the spread of the “Covid of pigs”, but will also help the industry recover by protecting ASF-unaffected areas and freezing interest rates on hog raisers’ loans, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Sunday.

Pangilinan, who has raised in a Senate Resolution the effects of ASF and massive pork importation, and urged the declaration of a State of Calamity, also said that such an executive declaration may be in the works.

“Ang balita ko ay pinoproseso na raw ‘yung State of National Calamity declaration,” he said in a media interview.

When asked on changes in Executive Order 128 that lowers the tariffs and increases the minimum access volume (MAV) allowed by the World Trade Organization, Pangilinan said: “Ang susunod na kinakailangang gawin ay tiyakin at bantayan yung pag-implementa at nang hindi abusuhin, nang hindi ito mauwi sa hindi rin bababa ang presyo ng karneng baboy. Ito naman ‘yung layunin dito na bumaba ang presyo ng baboy sa merkado, magkaroon ng sapat na suplay.”

Pangilinan, who believes that agriculture is a sustainable driver of economic growth, also supports proposals to review the MAV system on other food imports such as fruits, fishes, and other agricultural products.

“Chances are, lahat ‘yan across the board din ang mahiwagang mga pangyayari, ‘ika nga, na dapat bantayan,” he said.

 

Vis-Min hog-raisers’ lament

With the threat of ASF knocking at their doorstep, hog raisers from Visayas and Mindanao expressed support for Pangilinan’s call for a declaration of State of Calamity due to ASF in an online dialogue held Thursday. 

 “Ang sa atin sana ay ang specific need namin dito ay madagdagan dapat ang gawin ng gobyerno para ma-proteksyunan ‘yung mga areas na hindi pa tinatamaan. Kung tatamaan talaga tayo, babahain tayo (ng imported). Mawawala talaga ang industry,” said Nonon Tambago, chairman of the Central Visayas Pork Producers.

The group also expressed concerns about pork landing in their areas, which are almost ASF-free and are therefore sufficient in terms of supply.

Pangilinan said he would demand from DA strict monitoring of the imports through a resolution to create a sub-committee within the department that would submit monthly reports on the status of the importations, as well as the status of their implementation of the campaign against ASF.

“Ang i-introduce ko rin sa resumption ng hearing ng Senado ay kung papaano natin babantayan ang importation nung karne para hindi ito aabusuhin, hindi ito gagawing kasangkapan para may kumita o ma-cartelize, at mababantayan natin,” he said.