Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means has asked Agriculture Secretary William Dar for assistance in preventing and anticipating an avian flu outbreak in the province of Albay following reports of the H5N1 strain of avian flu, a highly-infectious strain, being detected in Bula and Sipocot in Camarines Sur.
“While my office is validating these reports, I am deeply concerned about a potential outbreak in these areas as Albay sources poultry products (particularly eggs) from these municipalities,” Salceda, wrote Dar on Wednesday.
Salceda also noted that “the DA is already undertaking measures in affected areas in Central Luzon to control the infection.”
Salceda asked Dar “Whether RT-PCR tests are available or pre-positioned to detect the virus in Albay; What biosafety measures can be taken by farmers and raisers to prevent the transmission of avian flu among their poultry; [and] What forms of assistance can the DA extend to poultry raisers in Albay to prevent the spread of avian flu.”
Salceda also reassured Dar “of my full support for your efforts to prevent this disease from undermining our agricultural recovery.”
Salceda also reemphasized his February 23 letter to the Secretary which sought to assure Dar of the support of the House of Representatives to the efforts of the agriculture department to fight bird flu outbreaks.
In the letter, Salceda offered to endorse any request from the DA for changes in administrative procedures in the Bureau of Customs, where Salceda’s committee has oversight powers, to prevent the entry of infected live and poultry products.
Salceda also offered to request “the Philippine Ports Authority and the Department of Transportation to work with your department to craft guidelines to strengthen avian flu prevention measures.”
“Agriculture is still recovering, and given inflation prospects, keeping food prices down will be an absolutely critical priority for this administration and the next one. Efforts to prevent ASF-like effects on our poultry industry will be vital to economic recovery,” Salceda said