Pangilinan warns vs fowl profiteers amid bird flu outbreak
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan on Saturday, August 12, warned against profiteering in the wake of an outbreak of bird flu in Pampanga, as he also pushed for a massive information drive on the avian flu virus.
In a statement, Pangilinan said the Department of Agriculture (DA) should "ensure that only uncontaminated meat is available to the consuming public at standard prices," as profiteering may occur due to the culling of hundreds of thousands of fowls.
"Of utmost importance is to control the spread of the virus and to prevent it from taking people’s lives and more livelihood," he added.
Pangilan was former chair of the Senate agriculture committee.
He also served the Aquino administration as its presidential assistant for food security and agricultural modernization.
Pangilinan's statement comes after Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Friday confirmed reports of an outbreak of avian influenza type A, subtype H5. The avian flu affected 6 farms in San Luis, Pampanga.
Bird flu information drive
In his statement on Saturday, Pangilinan added spreading practical information regarding the avian flu was important to better arrest its spread.
This is especially because some strains of the H5 avian flu – of which the H5 subtype has a number of neuraminidase (or N) variants – can be passed on to humans.
"The Department of Agriculture, together with 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," Pangilinan said.
Some questions Pangilinan said should be answered include, "What is the H5 avian flu strain? How is it different from the much-dreaded A(H1N1) bird flu that spread elsewhere around the world in 2009?"
The Bureau of Animal Industry has sent samples for testing to the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, a World Organization for Animal Health reference laboratory, for the avian flu. (READ: DA: No reported animal-to-human transmission of bird flu yet in PH)
While he does appreciate the national government's push to properly compensate poultry farmers for the culled birds, Pangilinan also hoped there would be greater government support for micro and small businesses such as funding and other types of assistance for those affected by the avian flu outbreak.
"We must act as one to ensure that we are spared from its devastating consequences," Pangilinan added. – Rappler.com