DTI urged to monitor chicken prices
MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Francis Pangilinan called on the government to watch out for an increase in the prices of chicken in the market following the outbreak of bird flu in San Luis, Pampanga.
“With the DA’s announcement of culling hundreds of thousands of fowl, we urge the Department of Trade and Industry to watch out for profiteers who might take advantage of the situation and increase the prices of raw chicken meat and processed food in the market. As it is, there is only one affected area and there are many other sources of chicken meat in the country,” Pangilinan said.
Apart from compensating the affected farms for the culling of their birds, Pangilinan urged the government to provide greater support to the micro and small businesses and the industry in general through funding and other assistance as they battle the virus and recover from their losses.
He also urged the government to come up with a comprehensive plan of action to address the first outbreak of the avian flu in the country.
In a statement, Pangilinan said that there should be a concerted effort from all government agencies to prevent the spread of the virus and to protect all of the vulnerable sectors against its impacts.
“Of utmost importance is to control the spread of the virus and to prevent it from taking people’s lives and more livelihood,” said Pangilinan, who used to head the Senate’s agriculture committee.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has confirmed the first outbreak of bird flu in the country, which it pinpointed to San Luis town in Pampanga.
A total of 400,000 ducks, chickens and quail within the one-kilometer radius of San Luis would be culled to prevent the spread of the virus.
Pangilinan said that the DA and the Department of Health should conduct a massive information campaign such as community assemblies to educate the public about the virus, its dangers and on ways of avoiding it.
He said it is important to know what is the H5 avian flu strain and how different this is from the A(H1N1) bird flu that spread around the world in 2009.
“The information drive should include the protocols to be followed to prevent the further spread of the virus. Since the virus is known to infect humans as well, people, especially those who handle fowl, should know how to protect themselves,” Pangilinan said.
He also urged the DA to take steps to ensure that no contaminated poultry ends up in the markets for public consumption.
“Experts have repeatedly warned that the avian flu pandemic is inevitable, even as the timing is unpredictable. We must act as one to ensure that we are spared from its devastating consequences,” he said.
Former Pampanga Bishop Pablo Virgilio David yesterday asked the public to cooperate with the authorities in order to control and put an end to the avian flu virus that has affected fowl in San Luis municipality in Pampanga.
David, who is now assigned to the Diocese of Kalookan, urged the people in Pampanga to follow the instructions given by the authorities to stop the spread of the virus and to take precautions to avoid getting sick.
“We definitely must do all we can to contain this disease by cooperating with the authorities and the proper government agencies,” said David, who is the incoming vice president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). – With Evelyn Macairan