DA to submit reco on declaring ASF state of emergency, observes declining incidents since October

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippine, March 12) — Amid calls from lawmakers to declare a state of emergency due to the spread of African Swine Fever, the Department of Agriculture said it will submit its recommendation regarding the matter any time next week.

“We are finalizing our recommendation base doon sa rekomandasyon galing sa Senado (based on the Senate's recommendation). Anytime this week we will be sending our position and recommendation to the palace,” DA Secretary William Dar said Friday during the Laging Handa briefing. He later clarified he meant anytime next week.

In a hearing on Tuesday, members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform supported Senator Francis Pangilinan’s request to file a resolution urging the DA to declare a state of emergency in Luzon, where most of the 40 provinces affected by the hog disease are located.

A state of emergency would allow the government to allocate more funds for additional measures to address the problem and to provide support to affected hog raisers.

Once the country declares a state of calamity due to the worsening ASF situation, Pangilinan on Saturday said the DA can raise money from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund and Quick Response Fund to help the hog industry recover from the impact of "what has been called COVID of pigs".

Pangilinan also assured that the Senate will pass on Monday the resolution seeking to place the country under a state of calamity.

This came after senators on Wednesday agreed with Pangilinan's resolution urging the DA to recommend to the President the declaration of a state of calamity due to ASF.

Currently, Dar said they have alloted ₱1.1 billion to a hog repopulation program this year. Broken down, ₱400 million be used to establish breeder farms, ₱200 million repopulation in ASF-affected areas, and ₱500 million for loans to backyard raisers.

Another ₱1.5 billion has been allocated to the agency’s monitoring program in the barangay-level, and some ₱27 billion has been secured from the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines as additional loan program.

But Dar noted a decreasing trend in the number of ASF incidents in the country since October last year.

Based on data from the Bureau of Animal Industry, cases peaked to 1,773 in August 2020, then went down to 1,556 the following month. By October, it declined to 597, which continued until it reached only 62 cases as of March 2021.

“I would like to believe that this is an indication that quarantine and surveillance strategies that we have put in place are really working and we will continue to do so and much more with working with the local government units,” Dar said.

The country first reported an ASF outbreak in 2019. Since then, more than 400,000 pigs have been culled, around 4% of the total swine inventory of 9.72 million head as of January 1, 2021. Latest data in inventory was a decline of 24.1% from the previous year’s level, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.