Duterte orders swift release of ASF rehab funds to hog raisers

President Duterte has directed authorities to hasten the release of funds for the rehabilitation of the local hog industry affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak.

President Rodrigo Duterte (File photo/Malacañang)

According to the President, the release of the funds is part of the response efforts under the calamity declaration he issued due to the deadly viral disease infecting pigs.

The government earlier recognized that the ASF outbreak has reduced the country's swine population by around 3 million hogs. The outbreak has resulted in more than P100 billion in losses to the local hog sector and allied industries as well as triggered an increase in prices of local pork products.

"I remember signing everything and I hope that the money would be distributed to you as a payment for those that you have lost," the President said during a televised address aired Tuesday.

Concerned about the welfare of hog raisers, Duterte noted that culling of infected pigs was carried out to prevent the spread of the deadly swine disease. The government earlier increased the indemnification payout for every pig infected with ASF from P5,000 to 10,000.

Under Proclamation No. 1143 signed last May10, the President placed the country under state of calamity for one year as the government moves to mitigate the impact of the ASF outbreak.

ASF, fatal to hogs, has reportedly spread to 12 regions, 46 provinces, 493 cities and municipalities and 2,571 barangays in the country. New cases are still being reported despite the interventions made by the government, according to the President's proclamation.

The calamity declaration will "afford the National Government, and local govenrment units, ample latitude to utilize appropriate funds, including the Quick Response Fund, in their response to contain the continuing spread of the ASF and restore normalcy in ASF-affected areas."

"There is an urgent need to address the continued spread of ASF and its adverse impacts, to jumpstart the rehabilitation of the local hog industry, and to ensure the availability, adequate and affordability of pork products, all for the purpose of attaining food security,” the proclamation read.