Gov’t should ‘break the glass’ of DA’s P1-B quick response fund to stop ASF spread — Angara
MANILA, Philippines — Amid the presence of the African swine fever (ASF) in the country, Senator Sonny Angara on Wednesday urged the government to “break the glass” of the Department of Agriculture’s P1 billion quick response fund to stop the spread of the disease.
“This ASF is by all accounts a calamity. It may not have the dramatic footage that typhoons create, but in terms of damage to livelihood, and the households affected, it is just as damaging,” Angara said in a statement.
According to Angara, the funding for anti-ASF measures can be sourced from the P20 billion National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund, also known as the calamity fund in the General Appropriations Act for 2020.
Under this fund, the DA is assigned P1 billion in Quick Response Funding (QRF) “which by their nature, should have been forward-deployed to these agencies.”
“If agriculture disasters like pests, droughts and ASF are rated, the latter has the potential of becoming a high-category calamity, “ Angara said.
The DA first confirmed the presence of the ASF on Sept. 9, but assured the public that there was no epidemic.
DA Secretary William Dar then on Tuesday said the ASF has been “contained and controlled” in Rizal and Bulacan—the areas where the presence of the disease was first reported.
To help combat the spread of ASF, Angara said the Department of Budget and Management released P82.5 million to the DA to carry out measures to “arrest and abate” the spread of ASF last Sept. 10.
Angara said that P33 million from the total amount will be spent to boost the security screening measures in international airports. Meanwhile, P28 million will be allotted to laboratory testing of meat and meat products.
While Angara acknowledged the funds will be used to “strengthen quarantine curtains,” he noted that government lacks funding to fight ASF on the ground.
The senator also noted that another “point of interest” that the ASF outbreak also generated both Congress and the executive branch to look into the strengthening food biosecurity and food safety measures.
“Kung kailangan ma-pondohan ang ganyang concern sa national budget, bukas ang Senado sa anumang suggestion from our friends in the DA,” Angara said. /muf
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