P78M emergency fund for swine flu threat okayed

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    MALACAÑANG has approved a P78 million emergency fund to the Department of Agriculture (DA) to allow it to effectively manage, control and contain the threat of African swine fever (ASF) in the country.

    Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the Bureau of Animal Industry will utilize the money for biosecurity and quarantine operations, disease monitoring and surveillance, upgrading of laboratories, capacity-building and other disease control measures.

    Dar added the National ASF Task Force (NATF) has been convened to craft inter-agency coordination among concerned local government units (LGUs) and the private sector.

    The NATF is composed of the departments of finance, foreign affairs, interior and local government, environment and natural resources, trade and industry, national defense, budget and management and transportation, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

    Dar also instructed other DA regional directors in Visayas and Mindanao to submit their respective disaster management plans to prevent the possible spread of ASF in their areas.

    Dar promised to meet with governors and veterinary officers whose jurisdictions are affected by the ASF virus to align local issuances and corresponding actions with national guidelines, as well as present a geographic zoning plan to adjust government response to developing situations on the ground.

    This happened as the Quezon City government distributed financial assistance to hog raisers affected by the African swine fever virus.

    City Mayor Joy Belmonte said owners of 146 pigs culled in Barangay Bagong Silangan since Sunday’s operations began will get P3,000 and P1,500 in cash assistance for every pig and piglet, respectively.

    “Scholarships and livelihood will also be provided to affected families of illegal hog raisers to help them find new ways to earn a living,” Belmonte said.

    Belmonte had ordered the immediate culling of pigs from sitio Veterans (Area 5) and Oriole (Area 2) in Barangay Bagong Silangan after blood samples from pigs from these areas were confirmed by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) as positive for ASF.

    “We went above and beyond DA’s (Department of Agriculture) protocol to ensure that the virus won’t spread to nearby areas so I ordered the immediate culling of the pigs,” Belmonte said.

    Also in compliance with protocol, additional blood samples within the one-kilometer radius of “ground zero” have been collected and submitted to the BAI for testing.

    Belmonte also called on barangay officials within a one-kilometer radius to cooperate by identifying informal backyard hog raisers in the city and assist the Quezon City Veterinary Office in getting blood samples to be submitted to BAI for testing.

    Dr. Anamarie Cabel, City Veterinary Office (CVO) head, said the “1-7-10” protocol requires the culling of infected animals.