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

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 22, 2021   •   665

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 

Hontiveros urges DOLE to address labor abuses reported by food delivery drivers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Risa Hontiveros is urging the Department of Labor and Employment to address the issue of labor abuses reported by food delivery drivers.

The senator made the call after food delivery app Food Panda suspended at least 500 accredited riders in Davao City after participating in a unity ride in support of other riders who were suspended and denied access to the mobile app for 10 years.

The group is also complaining about the recent fare adjustment which significantly decreased their earnings to as low as P20.00 per ride.

Nananawagan ako sa DOLE na aksyunan agad ang hinaing ng ating delivery riders na nakararanas ng panggigipit sa mobile app operators,” she said.

(I am urging DOLE to address the complaints of our delivery riders who are experiencing problems with mobile app operators.)

Hontiveros called on DOLE to look into the plight of food delivery riders in Davao. She said there should also be guidelines and labor standards to protect the welfare of the riders.

“Failure to act on such grievances is negligence on the part of the government,” she said.

The senator also filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the working conditions of the so-called ‘gig economy’, which includes delivery riders, to address labor issues surrounding the emerging sector. AAC

 

 

DA, SBMA to put up country’s first border control facility for agri products

Maris Federez   •   July 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) are in talks of establishing the country’s first of five border control facilities.

In a news release dated July 7, the DA said the establishment which will be named the Cold Examination Facility in Agriculture (CEFA) will be built at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone in Zambales.

The DA said it is targeting 100 percent inspection of farm, fishery, and meat products to ensure their quality, determine and confiscate erroneously declared shipments, and prevent the entry of transboundary pests and diseases.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar met with SBMA chairperson and CEO Atty. Wilma Eisma on June 30.

Dar said Eisma fully supports the proposal of the DA to construct and operate the Subic CEFA.

The DA said that once operational, “the Subic CEFA will be able to conduct full and thorough inspection of containerized agricultural commodities through risk assessment, complemented by x-ray screening of the Bureau of Customs (BOC).”

The system will subject all farm, fishery, meat, and food imports to 100% sampling and laboratory testing.

“The Subic Bay Freeport Zone is an ideal location because it is well-connected to the main Metro Manila highways,” the DA chief said.

“The CEFAs will initiate a new way of conducting first-border inspections, as well as host more thorough examinations, as you can open all arriving imports in one cold warehouse and have ample time to examine them,” he added.

Dar added that negotiations of establishing another CEFA at the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) compound at the Manila International Container Port (MICP) are still ongoing between the DA-BAI and DOTr-PPA.

The DA said that it also plans to put up similar CEFA in the ports of Batangas, Cebu, and Davao.

For the Subic CEFA, the DA proposes to use a 2,000-square meter lot at the freeport zone for 25 years, renewable upon mutual agreement.

Secretary Dar is confident that the partnership will transform the Subic International Port into the country’s major hub for agricultural product imports.

“We thank SBMA chair and CEO Eisma for the smooth negotiations, pending approval of the SBMA Board, that will jumpstart the process of procurement. We wish the facility constructed as soon as possible,” he said.

BAI sees drop in cases of African Swine Fever

Marje Pelayo   •   June 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) reported a total of 176 cases of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country in the past month.

The number is lower than the 1,773 cases recorded in August 2020 at the beginning of the outbreak and in April 2021 when the agency logged 520 cases.

As of June 4, there are nine provinces with a total of 19 barangays that still have cases of ASF virus.

These are:
Leyte – 9
Ilocos Norte – 2
Northern Samar – 2
Abra – 1
Apayao – 1
Mountain Province – 1
Cagayan – 1
Eastern Samar – 1
Davao Occidental – 1

“Mahigit 300 (local government unit) na po yung walang reported cases ng ASF for a period ranging from 90 to 180 days ang more,” said Dr. Reildrin Morales, OIC, BAI.

BAI said that areas cleared of ASF may now start repopulating their hogs provided that they coordinate with their local veterinary office or they can visit directly to BAI offices.

Currently, there are 10 farms in Luzon that conducts clinical trial for a potential vaccines against ASF.

“Kung magiging maganda po yung performance nung tina-trial nating bakuna ang isa po sa direksyon natin ay mag mass vaccination tayo lalo na doon sa high risk areas,” Morales said.

As per BAI report, half the number of affected hog raisers have already been compensated which reached a total of P1.55 billion.

BAI projects that it will take about two to three years before the Philippines can finally take control of ASF, especially with the help of local government units.

By declaring a state of calamity due to ASF, the LGUs may now utilize their respective calamity fund for their response efforts against ASF. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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