Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri urged Malacañang to recall back to the country Filipino scientists and top-notch veterinarians to fight African swine fever (ASF) that is now affecting the Philippines.
“We have to save the livelihood of our hog raisers, both large-scale and backyard; especially the backyard hog raisers. For many years, we have had the lowest hoof and mouth disease. We controlled Avian Flu and it failed to decimate our poultry industry,” Zubiri stressed.
The veteran legislator noted the Philippines is one of the preferred sources of pork and poultry by countries who have high standards like Japan.
“I’m aghast at how ASF is destroying our hog raisers.”
“That’s why I’m aghast at how ASF is destroying our hog raisers. Together with the Agriculture Committee chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar, I have warned that the importation of pork meat, offals and processed products should stop. Evidently, the concerned agencies were powerless against importers added to smugglers who cared for nothing else but their profits,” the seasoned lawmaker said.
“I understand that our porous borders opened our hog raisers to attack with imports driving down farm gate prices. Now we witness how they’re succumbing to mandatory culling meaning they lose present stock and need a lot of capital to restart,” the senator noted.
“Since the disease is already here decimating the industry, I urge Malacañang to call as many Filipino scientists and veterinarians back to the country. Many of them occupy high positions in the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Office of the United Nations,” he appealed.
Zubiri also recognized the various task forces organized by Agriculture Secretary William Dar that are being assisted by the private sector.
“Our hog raisers should regain their lost livelihoods.”
“Still, we have to more than double our manpower, equipment and financial resources to address ASF until the whole of the Philippines is declared ASF- free. Pork-eating Filipinos should feel safe eating pork without the lingering fear that they’re eating diseased meat. Our hog raisers should regain their lost livelihoods from Benguet to Davao as all our islands register ASF infection,” he stressed.
“I urge government to invite all ‘balik-scientists’ who hold the key in beefing-up efforts to combat ASF,” said Zubiri, who studied agri-business and holds a master’s degree on Environment and Natural Resources Management from the University of the Philippines.