Senate appeals to Duterte to declare state of calamity over ASF

THE Senate appealed to President Duterte to declare a state of national calamity to address the impact of African swine fever (ASF) on the local hog industry.

The senators on Monday approved Senate Resolution (SR) 676 taking into consideration SRN 684, urging Duterte to reject the proposed reduction of tariff rates and the increase in the minimum access volume (MAV) of imported pork products.

They agreed that “a declaration of a State of Calamity throughout the Philippines due to ASF will, among others, afford the Department of Agriculture, as well as local government units and other concerned agencies, ample latitude to utilize appropriate funds, including the Quick Response Fund, in their disaster preparedness and response efforts to address the ASF outbreak.”

SR 676, which Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan sponsored stated that “increasing the MAV and decreasing tariff, proposed ironically by the DA itself, would further derail the recovery of the hog industry, if not kill the local industry altogether.”

The senator said the failure to contain ASF has caused pork prices to remain at an average of P450 per kilo since January this year.

“Information that was relayed to us on the streets is that price per kilo is increasing P10 every week. And it has resulted in the loss of P56 billion for the swine industry that is over 70 percent backyard small hog raisers,” Pangilinan said.

According to the Department of Agriculture, the total number of hogs culled as part of ASF containment procedures has reached 442,014.

Private industry hog raisers estimate that around 4.7 million hogs are affected by ASF, equivalent to over a third of the country’s pig stocks.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform, stressed the urgency of adopting the resolution ahead of the anticipated policy announcement of the President after Congress suspends its session starting March 27.