State of calamity will enable LGUs to utilize standby funds: Dar

State of calamity will enable LGUs to utilize standby funds: Dar

MANILA – Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar on Wednesday welcomed the issuance of Presidential Proclamation 1143 declaring a state of calamity nationwide due to African swine fever (ASF).

“The proclamation is a much-needed shot-in-the-arm. It will allow local government units (LGUs) to set aside part of their Local Risk Reduction and Management Fund or commonly known as calamity fund for quick response fund (QRF), and to allocate for the prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, rehabilitation and recovery that may be brought by the ASF incidence in their respective areas,” Dar said in a statement.

The proclamation, issued on Monday (May 10) by President Rodrigo Duterte enables the DA to partner with LGUs and hog raisers’ groups and the private sector to craft and implement their respective ASF contingency plan.

The DA chief said it will be anchored on strong and sustained biosecurity, surveillance, monitoring and protection measures, covering both ASF-affected and ASF-free areas.

Presidential Proclamation 1143 cites that the country will remain under the state of calamity for one year, unless earlier lifted or extended as circumstances may warrant.

In mid-March this year, Dar has requested the declaration through a resolution that was passed on April 20, 2021.

Since the first reported case in August 2019, the DA said that ASF has spread to 12 regions, 46 provinces, 502 cities and municipalities, and 2,652 barangays.

Over 3 million pigs have been lost so far due to ASF, the data showed.

This caused a contraction in pork supply and a surge in retail prices of pork and pork products.

The DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) vouched to work closely with LGUs to ensure that their ASF contingency and action plans are aligned and consistent with the overall plan of the national government.

BAI suggested that the LGUs’ QRF may be used for the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) sets and needed equipment for quarantine and checkpoint personnel; establishment and maintenance of ASF biosecurity checkpoints; implementation of ASF information campaign in partnership with the DA-BAI, hog raisers’ groups and the private sector; procurement of test kits, biologics and other needed equipment and materials; and strengthening of diagnostic capability to support early warning system, surveillance and monitoring.

Private sector support

Meanwhile, the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) supports the President’s decision which effectively freezes proposed adjustments in the selling prices of the commodity in spite of the increase in prices for the raw material.

Through this, the government is more likely to achieve its goal of reducing the country’s inflation rate, the group said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, we will need to tighten our belts further until we can get relief by the middle of this year just to help ensure that inflation will not rise any further,” it added. (PNA)

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