Villanueva calls for ‘game plan’ for ASF-hit swine industry after declaration of state of calamity

Published May 12, 2021, 8:41 AM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva has called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other concerned agencies to prepare their interventions for the local hog industry following the declaration of a state of calamity due to the African swine fever (ASF).

Hog raiser Val Ruiz is in disbelief that 28 of his pigs are among the 3,000 hogs in two villages in Davao City that would be culled in February, 2020 as part of preventive measures against African swine fever (ASF). (Keith Bacongco / MANILA BULLETIN File photo)

Villanueva issued the appeal Tuesday, May 11, as he lauded President Duterte’s declaration of a state of calamity in the Philippines. He said it was a “big win” for the country’s hog industry which has been crippled by the ASF outbreak.

The DA, he said, should be prompted to focus on “concrete measures” for affected swine producers.

“Now the real work begins. This is the declaration of war against ASF that pig farmers have long been waiting for. Recognizing that there is a calamity is one thing, ending it is another,” Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee, said in his statement.

“Hopefully, this declaration will prompt the government to move as one, marshal all resources available, and work on a timetable that results in quick victory,” he added.

He urged the DA and other concerned agencies to come up with a “game plan” to implement the objectives of proclamation, which not only concerns the response to the ASF, but also the rehabilitation of the local hog industry.

“The DA should now regularly update the public on what interventions are being done pursuant to this declaration. If the local hog industry were a patient in the ICU, it is then the duty of the DA to display the patient’s chart so the country would know if progress is being made and recovery is underway,” Villanueva pointed out.

Senator Cynthia Villar also said that the declaration was a “welcome development”.

“This would enable the government to realign public funds for additional budget to effective respond to the state of emergency,” said Villar, who heads the Senate agriculture committee.

Under Duterte’s Proclamation No. 1143 issued Monday, May 10, the state of calamity shall take effect for a period of one year, unless lifted or extended.

The proclamation would give the national government and local government access to quick response funds to contain the ASF outbreak and address its impacts.

The Senate earlier called for the declaration so assistance to local producers could be expedited.