Senator Ralph Recto said the government should have a Plan B specially if the African Swine Flu threatens the survival of the P280 billion a year industry.
“I think that a study group should be convened to assess the financial fallout in the event of a worst-case scenario. Next to rice, the hog industry is the biggest in agriculture in terms of value,” Recto said.
While Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Health protocols to contain the diseases, Recto said how to mitigate the financial disaster has not yet been addressed.
“We must be ahead of the curve. Dapat ready tayo for every imaginable scenario. Kung mayroong mass culling, ano ang tulong na dapat ibigay doon sa mga hog raisers? Ngayon pa lang, dapat may quiet pencil-pushing na sa gastos,” Recto said.
He said readying an assistance package for hundreds of thousands dependent on the local hog industry was beyond the mandate of the DA.
With annual production nearing 2.3 metric tons, the Philippine swine industry is the 8th biggest in the world by volume.
“Remember, this is the land of lechon, the national fiesta food; adobo, the national comfort food; sisig, is one of the pambasang pulutans; and longganisa and tocino are the breakfast of champions,” he said.
Four years ago, Filipino families were already buying P101 billion worth of fresh pork alone.
“Kung decreasing ang fish catch natin, at mahal na rin ang maraming isdang dagat, tapos mawawala pa ang pork–kailangan talaga may turnaround plan na nakahanda para sa industriya, para makabangon kaagad sila,” Recto said.
Kung magiging disaster ito, the hog industry deserves calamity aid, he said.
Recto said the government collected duties and taxes on imported pork product, which in 2018, reached 312,499 metric tons valued at almost P25 billion.