PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved a P1-billion fund to compensate hog raisers whose pigs were culled during the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak on Luzon, which will be sourced from the Office of the President’s contingency fund.

Mr. Duterte also approved during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday funding for the construction of border examination facilities in ports in five areas to fight the spread of the virus.

“The Chief Executive approved Agriculture Secretary William (D.) Dar’s request to use the remaining contingent fund of the Office of the President for the indemnification of hog raisers, and designate cold storage areas in the Ports of Manila, Subic, Batangas, Cebu and Davao for 100% monitoring of meat products entry,” The President’s Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement.

In a phone interview, Mr. Dar said that of the P1 billion, P221 million has been released, with the DA requesting the release of the remainder. Each pig farmer will be receiving P5,000 per culled pig.

He said the decision to seek approval to use OP funds follows the discovery that the DA could not immediately use its Quick Response Fund.

According to the Philippines’ second follow-up report to the World Organization for Animal Health on Nov. 4, the authorities have killed and disposed of 40,303 hogs since the start of the outbreaks in July.

The cost and budget of the cold storage facilities has yet to be determined by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Mr. Dar said. In a radio interview, he noted that three warehouses will cost an estimated P1 billion in total.

These warehouses will host initial tests of pork and processed pork products entering the country to ensure they are ASF-free.

The DA has blamed smuggled pork infected with ASF for the outbreak of the disease in Luzon.

In October, two cargo containers from China were seized at the Port of Manila. These were consigned to Jeniti International Trading in Binondo, Manila.

Products were “misdeclared” as tomato paste and vermicelli, when these were actually pork products, dimsum, dumplings, along with as other products like Peking Duck, marinated chicken wings, minced vegetables with meat, and egg noodles.

Since 2018, the government has banned entry of pork and pork products from ASF-infected countries like China, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cambodia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, North Korea, Laos, Moldova, Mongola, Myanmar, Poland, Germany, and South Africa. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang