‘Hindi naman nila kasalanan’: Poe in asking DA to step up aid for ASF-affected hog raisers

Published February 26, 2021, 7:36 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Grace Poe on Friday prodded the Department of Agriculture (DA) to provide more support to hog raisers affected by the African swine fever (ASF).

Sen. Grace Poe

Poe issued the appeal as she pointed out that farmers would not avail of the P27.5-billion loan program being offered by the DA to restart the hog industry.

“Sa ngayon, ang panukala ng DA ay meron sila halos P30 billion na ipapautang sa ating mga hog raisers. Ang problema, walang gustong umutang kasi hindi sila sigurado baka mamaya magkasakit na naman ang mga alaga nila — may utang na sila, lugi pa (Right now, the DA allocates about P30 billion to lend to our hog raisers. The problem is no longer wants to loan because they fear that their hogs will be infected again — that they will lose more money while having an outstanding debt),” she said in a statement.

Poe noted that under the DA’s guidelines, all live pigs inside backyard farms must be stamped out if a single case of ASF is found. Backyard raisers account for 65 percent of total swine population.

Such policy, she said, “leav[e] hog raisers drowning in debt.”

“Kaya ang sabi namin dapat kung nagpapautang ang DA, kung merong bagyo o kaya merong sakit na hindi naman kontrolado ng mga hog raisers o ng mga magsasaka, dapat ay ipatawad na ang kanilang utang (That’s why we are saying that if the DA is offering loans, and there will be typhoons or infectious disease that are out of the control of hog raisers or farmers, then their debts should be written off),” she said, recalling the senators’ appeal during the February 22 hearing of the Senate agriculture committee.

“Kasalanan ba nila na nagkabagyo? Kasalanan ba nila na hindi gumawa ng trabaho na tama ang mga inspectors kaya nahawa sa imported na karne? Hindi naman nila kasalanan ‘yon (Are hog raisers at fault for the typhoons? Or was that their fault that border inspectors did not do their jobs that why they got infected with imported meat? Those aren’t their fault),” she added.

She said the government, anyway, “is capable of shouldering the cost, especially once prices go down again and demand increases.”

In the recent Senate hearing, the DA explained that the loan is part of the department’s P28.1-billion allocation for its repopulation program in ASF-infected areas. Funds will come from the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

“Hindi naman sila maglo-loan eh, kailangan nila tulong. Kasi paano sila maglo-loan eh backyard farmers ‘yan (They will not avail of the loan, what they need is assistance. Because how will they be able to loan when they are only backyard farmers)?” Senator Cynthia Villar commented then.

President Duterte had signed Executive Order 124 which imposed a 60-day

price ceiling on pork and chicken within Metro Manila and set a price cap of P270 per kilogram for pork kasim, P300/kg for pork liempo, and P160/kg for whole dressed chicken