CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said on Tuesday that his department has allocated P50 million in financial assistance to poultry raisers in Pampanga affected by the outbreak of avian flu.
Piñol, accompanied by veterinarians from the Bureau of Animal Industry, motored to San Luis town, where he personally checked the culling and clearing operations at poultry farms in Barangays San Carlos and Sta Rita.
“The money will be deposited in a rural bank in San Luis town and will be available for disbursement sometime next week. A memorandum of agreement between the local government, DA and the bank will be made,” Piñol said.
A portion of the assistance will be a grant, the rest a soft loan.
In San Luis town alone, a total of five large poultry farms have been padlocked and subjected to disinfection since Saturday, when the BAI found the H5 avian influenza virus in fowl.
The DA intends to cull 200,000 fowl and BAI spokesperson Arlene Vytiaco said they need another week to complete the operation.
In separate meetings with poultry owners and other industry stakeholders on Monday, Governor Lilia Pineda appealed to the BAI to lift the ban on fowl and eggs from Pampanga, saying not all poultry in the province has been affected by the bird flu virus.
“The entire Pampanga is suffering from the stigma. And we want to make it clear that only fowls and birds in two villages in San Luis Pampanga were infected of bird flu,” Pineda stressed.
Pineda is tinkering with the idea of selling poultry products such as chicken and eggs to provincial and district jails to at least help stem the huge losses of raisers in the province.
Her proposal will be subjected to approval of the BAI and Department of Health.
Meanwhile, caretakers in poultry farms where the virus was detected have been placed under restriction in an undisclosed place and temporarily separated from their families.