Gov’t convenes task force to control outbreak of animal diseases
MANILA -The Department of Agriculture (DA) heeded stakeholders’ request with the creation of a task force to control the spread of animal transboundary diseases such as African swine fever and bird flu.
The DA, in a special order, constituted a Special Task Force on Animal Health responsible for the prevention and control of emerging transboundary diseases.
The group is tasked to coordinate with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to craft the necessary solutions to harmonize guidelines of the national and local government units.
It will collaborate with the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), DILG and Philippine National Police (PNP) to form the inter-agency task force for the detection, monitoring, surveillance, prevention and control of animal diseases.
The panel will work with the DOH and the DENR to implement the proposed Pandemic Fund and Livestock Infrastructure Modernization and Enhancement Program. Further, it is assigned to monitor the prices and level of production for livestock and poultry commodities.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Paz Benavidez Jr. and United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA) president Elias Jose Inciong are named chair and co-chair of the special task force, respectively.
Members from the government side include Agriculture Assistant Secretary Noel Padre, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista and Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) director Paul Limson.
Gregorio San Diego, chair of UBRA and Philippine Egg Board Association, National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. president Chester Warren Tan and Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc. president Rolando Tambago will represent the private sector.
Completing the task force composition is Jesus Edullantes, president of Provincial City and Municipal Veterinarians’ League of the Philippines.
UBRA earlier made the request to organize a task force on handling disease outbreaks as “there is no inter-department planning for worse scenarios.”
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez had said this would not overlap with the Price and Volume Watch Committee and Advisory Groups for Livestock and Poultry reconvened by the agency in January to closely monitor the prices of livestock and poultry products.
To date, African swine fever is active in five provinces and five regions, based on the BAI data as of May 10. Moreover, a separate BAI tally showed that cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza were recorded in two provinces as of June 9.