The Philippine government should have contingency plan to help people in the P280 billion a year hog industry if tests prove the deadly African Swine Flu is already in the country, Senator Ralph Recto said Friday.
“I think a study group should be convened to assess the financial fallout in the event of a worst-case scenario,” said Recto.
He noted the hog industry, next to rice, was the biggest in terms of value.
He also said the Philippines’ hog industry was eighth biggest in the world.
“While Department of Agriculture and Department of Health protocols to contain the diseases are in place and have been rehearsed, how to mitigate the financial disaster is, I think, an unexplored area,” Recto said.
“We must be ahead of the curve. We should be ready for every imaginable scenario,” he said, adding doing such a thing was not to be alarmist, but simply to be prepared.
He said readying an assistance package for hundreds of thousands dependent on the local hog industry “is beyond the mandate” of the DA.
“Of all the powers of the DA secretary, the power to appropriate or to release allotments is not one of them,” he said.
“It is something that is discussed in the highest levels of government, in the Cabinet, in both houses of Congress, more so if it requires a huge amount of money and bridge financing,” Recto said.
The hog industry is a pillar of Philippine economy, with millions earning a living on the swine supply chain, he said.
With annual production nearing 2.3 metric tons, it is the eighth biggest in the world by volume, Recto said.
Any production disruption will be felt on Filipino dining tables, Recto said.
“Remember, this is the land of lechon, the national fiesta food; adobo
, the national comfort food; sisig
, is one of the pambansang pulutans
; and longganisa
are the breakfast of champions.”
Four years ago, Filipino families were buying P101 billion worth of fresh pork alone.
The Senate leader said the government collected duties and taxes on imported pork product, which in 2018, reached 312,499 metric tons valued at almost P25 billion.