THE GOVERNMENT’S task force against the coronavirus has recommended the “unhampered passage” of hog shipments to help address supply issues, Malacañang said on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said Inter Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Resolution No. 97 approved a recommendation from the Department of Agriculture (DA) on the designation of a nautical highway from Luzon and Mindanao and the Maharlika Highway in Luzon as special hog lanes.

This is to ensure “the unhampered passage of hog shipment from Visayas and Mindanao, while preventing the spread of the African swine fever and observing all science-based precautionary and quarantine measures,” Mr. Roque said in a statement.

This, as the African Swine Fever (ASF) continues to threaten the local hog industry, with nearly 500,000 pigs culled in the country.

Mr. Roque said the DA, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Trade and Industry have been directed to facilitate the shipment of pork products amid supply issues.
The DA has tapped the 2GO Group, Inc. and Oceanic Container Lines, Inc. for the shipment of live hogs and “pork-in-a-box.”

DA Undersecretary William C. Medrano said in a televised press briefing on Friday that the agency has already released about P1.3 billion in indemnity funds for affected hog raisers in various regions of the country.

“We are urging the affected farmers, backyard and big commercial farms to avail of our credit facilities. The Agricultural Credit Policy Council allocated P500 million for loan and LandBank has committed P15 billion,” Mr. Medrano said. — K.A.T. Atienza