MANILA – With the entry of the African swine fever (ASF) in the country, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Monday joined the call of the Department of Agriculture (DA) for vigilance and cooperation among all stakeholders in helping prevent its spread.
“Magandang balita ang ulat ng DA na ang ASF ay na-contain na sa isang lugar. Dapat tayong gumawa ng mga hakbang na magtitiyak na ang lahat ng mga baboy natin sa bansa ay lumaking malusog at walang sakit (The report of the DA that ASF has been contained in an area is a positive news. We should put in place all measures to ensure that all our domestic pigs are grown healthy and free from the disease),” said the senator.
Pangilinan, who was food security secretary when an infected ornamental plant started the cocolisap infestation in 2014, said border controls must work to keep contaminated pork or pork products away. Reports said that a DA employee allegedly allowed for the entry of meat from China, where hogs are heavily affected by swine fever.
“Hinihikayat natin na pabilisin ang imbestigasyon para mapanagot natin ang mga dapat managot (We urge to fast-track the investigation so we can make people accountable for their actions),” said Pangilinan.
He also urged communities, including piggery owners, to be vigilant and immediately report signs of the disease.
“Sana wala nang baboy ang mapapatay, at kung kinakailangan, gawin ito sa maayos na paraan at sa paraan na hindi mahahawa ang tao sa sakit (We hope that no more pigs will be culled, and if absolutely needed, it must be done in the humane way and in a manner that would not expose people to the disease),” Pangilinan said.
In a press conference Monday morning, the DA said it has set aside ₱82-million fund to prevent the further spread of the disease. The amount includes a ₱3,000 financial aid for affected hog raisers.
“Dapat ay tiyakin din ng DA na sapat na mababayaran ang mga nawalan ng alagang baboy dahil sa pagpatay (We also exhort the DA to see to it that those who lost their hogs because of culling are compensated equitably),” Pangilinan said.
“Pag tinalakay natin ang panukalang 2020 budget, pakikinggan natin ang presentation ng DA at aaksyunan kung kinakailangan ng karagdagang budget para matulungan ang industriya, lalo na ang mga may-ari ng babuyan (As we are about to tackle the proposed 2020 budget at the Senate, we will listen to the presentation of the DA and act accordingly if it would need to augment its budget to aid the industry, especially the piggery owners),” he added.
As head of the Office of the Presidential Assistant on Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, Pangilinan mobilized various stakeholders to curb the cocolisapinfestation that affected about 2.7 million coconut trees.
A report from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) described as “praiseworthy” Pangilinan’s quarantine measures and “commendable” its participatory approach that rallied local governments, the scientific community, farmers, and other partners to solve the problem together.