P187M to be released for hog deaths

THE GOVERNMENT is set to release P187 million for response measures, including contingency and biosecurity, on the still unidentified disease that killed hogs in parts of the country. Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, speaking during the budget hearing at the House of Representatives Tuesday, said he already spoke with Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado on the need for a “quick release” of the fund. “DBM [Department of Budget and Management] Secretary said they will release it now,” he told reporters after the hearing. Hog industry leaders earlier released P9 million to help address the situation. “We have to manage the whole situation. We are extra careful. The industry which is contributing P260 billion,” Mr. Dar said. Last Aug. 19, the Department of Agriculture announced that it has received reports of increased hog mortality, which was “2% beyond normal,” in areas that have yet to be disclosed. Reports from international media noted, however, that Taiwan is imposing special baggage check on passengers from the Philippines after a suspected outbreak of African Swine Fever in Bulacan and Rizal. ASF is a non-treatable and contagious, and can kill swine in as fast as two days. Tests results are still being validated. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

DoLE, CFO support creation of department for OFWs


THE DEPARTMENT of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) have expressed support to the proposal to create a new department for overseas Filipino workers. “The is in support of the President’s call for the creation of the new department and supports the improvements of the delivery of the government services for overseas Filipinos, particularly those who are distressed and are in crisis,” said Labor Undersecretary Claro A. Arellano during a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday for the proposed Department of Overseas Filipinos (DoOF). CFO Undersecretary Astrovel P. Naik, for his part, said the creation of the DoOF would help attend to OFWs who comprise about 10% of the Philippine population. “In the first place, we handle a majority of the Filipinos overseas… we are supporting the call of the President to create a Department of Overseas Filipinos,” she said. Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said last month that DoLE has been tasked to submit a draft version of the DoOF to the Palace. In the initial DoLE version, all government agencies concerned with OFWs — the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, NRCO (National Reintegration Center for OFWs), ILAB (International Labor Affairs Bureau), CFO of the Office of the President, and OMWA (Office of Migrant Workers Affairs) of the Department of Foreign Affairs — will just be moved under one department. Senator Christopher “Bong” T. Go’s version of the bill calls for the abolishment of all these government agencies. — Gillian M. Cortez