IN a bid to contain African Swine Fever (ASF), a House leader is calling for the restoration of the budget cut of the Department of Agriculture.
Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga said P71.8 billion budget cut for 2020 could be utilized to address the problem.
The DA has confirmed that hog deaths in local piggeries were due to ASF.
Enverga also called for an inquiry into the implementation of the Food Safety Act of 2013 to determine loopholes that may have resulted in the entry to the country of possible carriers of the ASF.
The DA originally proposed a P333 billion budget for 2020 but this was slashed by P71.8 billion by the Department of Budget and Management.
“What is important to note is that the budget for livestock for FY 2020 tasked to deal with the ASF has dropped by 20 percent,” Enverga said.
The agriculture committee is strongly proposing to the House appropriations committee to augment the DA budget by at least P10 bilion, but the amount will have to be shared to carry out its programs for various agricultural fields, including the fight against ASF.
Enverga stressed that Agriculture Secretary William Dar’s confirmation that ASF was the cause of the hog deaths in Rizal should be enough reason for immediate action by government.
“Most immediate action that Congress should take would be to ensure that the budgetary needs of the agriculture department should be augmented to enable them to be responsive to probable needs and to protect the local hog raisers industry,” he added.
The lawmaker also urged local government units to start filling up positions for veterinarians to help prevent the ASF from spreading.
In addition, Ang Magsasaka Partylist Rep. Argel Cabatbat expressed support to Enverga’s call for additional DA budget “to ensure that our consumers and hog-raisers are properly protected.”
“We also trust that the private sector will not take advantage of the situation and keep the prices of pork within the suggested retail prices for our consumers,” Cabatbat said in a press statement.