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Duterte urged to ‘give life’ to dying P75B gamefowl trade

THE INDUSTRY that has never bothered the government for any social amelioration or financial assistance since the start of the COVID-19 quarantines in February is now in urgent need of simple ‘life support’ from President Rodrigo Duterte, through the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) – a permit to proceed with its safety-guaranteed new normal cockfights.

Stakeholders of the game fowl industry, which provides modest but decent and honest living for millions of its beneficiaries, shares hundreds of million pesos in taxes and duties and reportedly contributes about P75 billion revenue to our local economy, have been pressed-hard to convince the IATF that “our new normal design for the sports birds is much safer than the ‘facial and wellness center’ operations that you’ve recently allowed in GCQ and MGCQ areas.”

“We are law-abiding game fowl breeders that rely on the sense of judgement and fairness of the officials who composed the IATF. Letters after letters since last June have been sent by us to various concerned agencies outlining our assurances for the safe conduct of our culture-indoctrinated sports called ‘sabong,’ but have gone unacted. Our last recourse now would be to
appeal for President Rodrigo Duterte’s imprimatur,” the International Federation of Gamefowl Breeders Association, Inc. (FIGBA) said today.

The 20-year old federation which counts some 42 provincial game fowl breeders’ associations all over the country said “the direct beneficiaries of legitimate derbies estimated at 50,000 marginal breeding farms, 1,200 cockpit owners and hundreds of thousands of workers employed by allied service and supply firms of battle birds’ breeding and cockfights are on top of our mind in pushing for the approval of our sports events.”

“We appeal to your generous heart, Mr. President, to allow the resumption of derbies, with strict implementation of health protocols (a copy of our safety-guaranteed proposal and design was already sent to the IATF through Health Sec. Francisco Duque last June 24, 2020) as we remain a committed partner in your administration’s efforts to promote cultural and tourism activities through our sports events which may also help soften the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in our economy,” said FIGBA president Ricardo Palmares, Jr.

Palmares explained that the game fowl industry has grown tremendously over the years with an estimated P75 billion annual revenue which includes cost of feeds vaccines, vitamins, mineral supplements and medicines, farm equipment, farm accessories like incubators, pens, derby gadgets, cost of land for the farm and construction materials.

“The biggest players in our industry include San Miguel Feeds, Inc., UNACHO of UNILAB, Gokongwei Group, Lucio Tan Group, Aboitiz Group, Purina, Charoen Pokphand of Thailand, Excellence Poultry and Livestock Specialist, Lakpue Drug, Inc. and hundreds of feed mills and veterinary product companies,” said Palmares.

The FIGBA president stressed that all the necessary data which outlines what he described as an economic paralysis gripping the game fowl industry has been submitted to the National Economic Development Authority for proper appreciation.

“We have also submitted to the IATF and the DILG our proposed health protocol design aligned to what the health authorities have prescribed, including cockpit retrofitting and modular dividers to conform with physical distancing and ventilation requirement for indoor events,” said the FIGBA head.

Addressing Duterte, the FIGBA head added: “Our beloved President, we stay calm and obedient to your call for support in our fight against the coronavirus, and in our own little way, we’ve even provided financial assistance to thousands of our members. We’ve never been a burden to both the local and national authorities and we intend to remain at that. In fact, we aspire to be part of the solution if you just allow us, please, to continue with our sports events with full assurance that our activities will strictly observed the IATF prescribed health protocols.”