Despite delays, gov't vows to procure ASF vaccines to ensure food security

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 11) — The Philippine government will also work on procuring vaccines against the African swine fever as part of the plan to ensure food security, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

The plan to purchase vaccines to fight ASF outbreak in the country was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, Roque said during a Palace briefing on Thursday in response to Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando's inquiry on the national government's program to address the pork price crisis.

"Kasama po 'yan sa whole nation approach na kailangan nating mag-angkat ng ASF vaccine," Roque said. "Naantala lang ang deployment ng ASF vaccine dahil mataas ang demand, mas inuna ng mga dalubhasa itong COVID-19 vaccine."

[Translation: That's part of the whole of nation approach, that we need to buy ASF vaccines. The deployment is delayed because of the strong demand, and that the experts first focused on the COVID-19 vaccine.]

Roque assured that the current administration has already taken steps to pursue ASF vaccine procurement. He, however, did not elaborate.

He added that local producers can insure their hogs so they can recover their investments in case the virus attacks their farms.

The Department of Agriculture recently urged hog raisers to tap the free livestock insurance offered by the DA’s Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation. It provides ₱10,000 insurance cover per head of swine, on a premium payment of only 2.25 percent or ₱225.

The insurance package, Roque noted, can help regain the confidence of hog raisers.

Aside from market manipulators, industry observers, including the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, blamed the spike in pork prices on the government's lack of response versus the ASF.

Data from the DA earlier showed almost 350,000 pigs have been culled, while total cost has reached ₱56 billion since the start of the outbreak in 2019.