Lawmaker wants higher compensation for ASF-hit hog raisers

MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker proposed that hog raisers be compensated with at least 70% of the total cost of each culled pig struck by the deadly African swine fever (ASF).

During a hearing at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, October 2, AGAP Representative Rico Geron said the current financial aid from the government is not enough to cover losses. (READ: FAST FACTS: What is African swine fever?)

How much is given to hog raisers? Currently, the Department of Agriculture (DA) gives P3,500 to hog raisers regardless of the market value. For instance, P3,500 is only 17.5% of the total value of a pig worth P20,000.

Under Geron's proposal, the hog raiser would receive P14,000, 300% higher than the current compensation.

The DA allotted some P82 million to manage ASF, with most of the amount to be used to compensate affected farmers.

Should all of the amount be used to give out cash, it would only be for around 23,400 culled pigs. The DA has so far culled 20,000 pigs.

World Animal Protection global farming director Kate Blazsak previously told Rappler that the government should be more transparent on how they computed the amount of compensation per affected farmer.

Will there be more funds? Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has set aside P1 billion just for compensation.

This is equivalent to around 285,000 culled pigs, if the DA sticks to just P3,500 per culled swine.

However, DBM Director Cristina Clasara noted that the provisions for the DA's quick response fund may need to be amended.

Clasara said the fund is specifically intended for in-kind items to be given to calamity-affected individuals, and not cash.

Have all hog raisers received the money? Not yet. Geron said he got reports that some backyard hog raisers were only given promissory notes instead of cash.

Cayanan admitted that there were indeed pig owners who were given promissory notes, but added that they were only few.

Cayanan said the DA is still in the process of requesting and disbursing the funds, as several areas in Rizal and Bulacan have simultaneously requested financial assistance. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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