THE GOVERNMENT is awaiting recommendations on measures to be pursued in conjunction with a state of emergency declaration to address African Swine Fever (ASF), which are expected to include a P1-billion fund to indemnify farmers whose hogs have had to be culled.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is currently drafting proposals to more readily mobilize public funds to address ASF, which has drastically reduced hog numbers and is threatening to send inflation even higher, the Presidential Spokesperson Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said at a televised briefing.

“We welcome that (proposal) and dina-draft na po ng DA ang communication sa (the DA is drafting a communication to) Malacañang suggesting precisely this,” Mr. Roque said. “Hinihintay po ng Malacañang ‘yan para po mapirmahan at mapatupad (The Palace is waiting for the draft for signing and implementation).”

Mr. Roque said the recommendations will generally empower local governments in launching programs to minimize the impact of ASF on hog raisers. They will also require local governments to set aside funds specifically to address the hog industry’s recovery.

The DA has said the disease has affected more than 68,000 farmers in 40 provinces across 12 regions and has resulted in the culling of about 442,000 hogs.

Hog culls have led to increasing pork prices in Metro Manila public markets and in nearby areas, prompting President Rodrigo R. Duterte last month to impose price controls on pork and chicken.

At the briefing, Mr. Roque said Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar still enjoys the trust and support of the President.

“(Cabinet members) continue to work or remain in our duties for as long as the President has full trust and confidence in us. Ganoon din po ang sitwasyon ni Secretary Dar (That is also the situation with Secretary Dar).” — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza