Hontiveros urges DA to focus on ramping up efforts vs ASF instead of price caps

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 22, 2021   •   728

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Risa Hontiveros has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to focus its efforts on preventing the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) instead of imposing price ceilings.

“The government should instead channel its efforts to bring credibility to testing, reporting, and responding to local outbreaks, among others. Hindi na nakakatulong ang ipinataw nilang price control (imposing price control is not helping), so let’s look deeper than the surface,” the senator said.

Hontiveros noted that the DA is already boosting local hog supply by distributing mother pigs and feeds to ASF-cleared areas, however, hog raisers still fear subsequent waves of infection.

Instead of repopulation plans, Hontiveros said the DA should also teach hog raisers preventive measures to protect livestock from ASF. She added that the price cap is making it almost impossible for vendors to recover from the “twindemic” of COVID-19 and ASF.

“Nakararanas tayo ng ‘Twindemic’ —pandemya ng COVID-19 at epidemya ng ASF. Kambal din ang dagok sa ating magbababoy na nalubog pa dahil sa itinakdang price ceiling (We are experiencing a ‘Twindemic’—COVID-19 pandemic and the ASF epidemic. Our hog raisers are also experiencing twin challenges due to the price ceiling),” the senator said.

Hontiveros also proposed to revoke the imposed price ceiling to help affected producers and retailers recover from their losses.

“Dumadaing na ang ating producers at retailers. Ilang eksperto na ang tumutol sa pagpapatupad ng price ceiling. Bawiin na sana ito para makabawi naman sa lugi ang ating mga kababayan (Our producers and retailers are complaining. Several experts have already expressed opposition to implementation of a price ceiling. It should be revoked for the sake of our fellowmen),” she added. AAC 

4 na probinsya sa Cagayan Valley, tinamaan ng ASF

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 31, 2021

Muling nakapagtala ng mga kaso ng African Swine Fever (ASF) ang apat na probinsya sa Cagayan Valley Region. Kabilang dito ang probinsya ng Nueva Vizcaya, Isabela, Quirino at Cagayan.

Mahigit 20 mga bayan na lamang sa mga ito ang ASF-free habang nanatiling walang kaso ng ASF sa probinsya ng Batanes.

Ayon sa regional director ng Department of Agriculture Region 2 na si Director Narciso Edillo, isa sa itinuturong dahilan ng paglaganap ng ASF sa rehiyon ay ang kakulangan sa paghihigpit sa inter-municipal ASF checkpoint kaya naman naipupuslit ang mga kontaminadong karne.

Sa ulat ni Edillo, nagsimula na ang mga disinfection sa mga farm upang masiguro sa hindi lumala ang paglaganap ng ASF sa lugar.

“Nagkaroon ng disinfection ng mga farm and backyards, lalo na yung mga backyards kasi dito sa Region II 95% ng backyards ina-apply natin yung mga biosecurity,” aniya.

Aabot sa 1,411 hog farmers ang apektado ng ASF sa rehiyon at nasa 5,500 na baboy na ang isinailalim sa culling.

Bilang tulong sa mga hog farmers nagbigay naman ang mga lokal na pamahalaan ng P3,000 kada isang baboy na naapektuhan ng ASF.

Mahigpit na ipinagbabawal ng DA at ng Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) ang pag labas-pasok ng mga kontaminadong karne ng baboy.

Tinukoy naman na under control ang kaso ng ASF sa apat na probinsya sa Region 2.

Samantala, isinailalim naman sa red zone (infected zone) ang Laoag City matapos ring makapagtala ng kaso ng ASF sa ilang barangay.

Aabot sa mahigit 5,000 baboy na ang natukoy ng DA na apektado ng ASF. Binigyan rin ng tulong pinansiyal ang mga hog raisers sa Laoag City para sa mga baboy na naapektuhan ng ASF.

Patuloy ang isinasagawang testing at pag-control sa mga kaso ng ASF sa dalawang rehiyon.

Philippines to export more mangoes, pineapples to US

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — More Philippine-grown mangoes and pineapples will soon be exported to the United States, the Department of Agriculture (DA) announced.

The DA said the development comes after its Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) and the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) reached a deal during a virtual meeting held on August 12.

“Expanding the export market of Philippine pineapples and mangoes in the US and other countries will not only enhance our national economy, but more importantly, provide increased incomes to thousands of farmers and their families in pineapple- and mango-producing provinces nationwide,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a statement.

The recent agreement between the APHIS and BPI could dramatically increase the country’s exports of pineapples and resume shipments of mangoes to the US via additional ports of entry, he added.

The Philippines currently exports fresh pineapples to the US through Guam, Commonwealth of Marianas Island, and North Atlantic regions. From 2013 to July 15, 2021, exports amounted to only 346,190 kilograms.

The country previously exported fresh mangoes to the US, from 2005 to 2008, totaling 386,099 kilograms, all produced in Guimaras Island, the DA added.

The DA said USDA-APHIS accepted evidence that the Philippines’ main export pineapple variety is not a host to the oriental fruit fly.

The fruit pest, known scientifically as Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel), is very destructive and often finds its way into the US, sometimes triggering wide-scale eradication programs.

The Philippines may start shipping pineapples to various US markets before year-end, the DA said.

Senate seeks probe on alleged DOH mismanagement of P67-B COVID-19 fund

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate wants to look into the alleged mismanagement of funds of the Department of Health (DOH) allotted for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) response.

After the recent assessment of the Commission on Audit (COA), senators are seeking to investigate the deficiencies on the DOH’s P67.32 billion COVID-19 budget.

COA attributed the said deficiencies to the health department’s non-compliance with pertinent laws and regulations, including the use of funds not for the intended purpose.

Senator Grace Poe said this proves to be counter-beneficial to the government’s efforts to curb the spread of the disease at a crucial time.

“These funds were provided to strengthen the agency’s health resources in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the implementation deficiencies denied our countrymen their right to health at a time when it is most needed,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the Senate should “particularly look into the P3.97 billion worth of contracts and projects with procedural deficiencies in the procurement process and lacking documentation.”

“It is imperative that we examine closely the DOH’s use of billions of pesos in COVID-19 response funds given the findings of the COA and the corruption allegations that hounded the agency’s procurement of various COVID-19 equipment and supplies,” Drilon said.

Drilon said DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III’s ineptitude is sabotaging the government’s response to the pandemic.

“While we see a shortage of beds, PPEs, ventilators, oxygen tanks, the DOH incurred P24.64 billion in unobligated funds that could have augmented our medical resources and paid on time the risk allowance of our medical frontliners,” Drilon said.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the country needs commitment and competence from the DOH leadership to ensure every peso budgeted and allocated would save lives.

“Given the COA findings, the DOH seems to be depriving thousands of Filipinos of healthcare services in the face of national emergency and it is nothing short of criminal,” she said. AAC

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