SAN FERNANDO, Philippines – If the Philippine President can eat chicken and eggs from Pampanga, so can you.
This was the message the government wished to send as President Rodrigo Duterte and other top government officials feasted on chicken and eggs amid the bird flu outbreak in some parts of Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.
Duterte participated in a boodle fight with Pampanga and Nueva Ecija government officials, Cabinet members, and poultry farmers on Monday, August 28, in San Fernando City.
WATCH: #PresidentDuterte, Rep Gloria Arroyo gorge on itik, chicken in San Fernando, Pampanga to prove they're safe to eat. @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/myWnjmb3B5— Pia Ranada (@piaranada) August 28, 2017
The President ate chicken egg, adobong itik (duckling), and grilled chicken spread out before him on banana leaves. Standing beside him were former president and Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.
Other Cabinet members present were Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, and Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
The President supposedly said while he ate, “Ang sarap nito ah (This is really good),” Esperon told reporters after.
In a speech before the boodle fight, Duterte said he went to Pampanga in order to allay fears about the bird flu outbreak which has discouraged consumers from buying poultry products.
“I assure the public that the poultry products in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija are safe for consumption,” he said.
The President joked that he agreed to eat chicken in Pampanga because he wasn’t afraid to die. (READ: 6 tips from DOH on how to be safe from bird flu)
“Sabi na ayaw na kumain ng manok, maniwala ka diyan. Kung panahon mo na talaga, maski magkain ka na, maski ano. Kaya sabi ko, ‘Sige, punta ako doon,'” he told his audience.
(They said they don’t want to eat chicken, don’t believe it. If it’s your time to die, you will die no matter what you eat. So I said, “Okay, I’ll go there.”)
But while he meant to assure the public that his presence in Pampanga would not harm his health, he noticeably kept coughing during his speech.
Aware of this, Duterte said he was coughing because he was “allergic” to the flowers at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, where he attended the National Heroes Day celebration earlier that day.
In the middle of his speech, he even jokingly asked someone to just read it for him since he was coughing so much.
“‘Di alam nila ‘yan na ‘pag ‘yang bulaklak. Pati sa burol ko, huwag kayong magpadala ng bulaklak, baka mag ubo-ako ng mag-ubo diyan sa ilalim ng kabaong. Ako lang ang makikita ‘nyong patay na ubo ng ubo,” he said, eliciting laughter from the audience.
(They don’t know about the flowers. Even during my wake, don’t bring flowers because I will probably keep coughing inside my coffin. I am the only corpse you will see which keeps coughing.)
‘Successful’ fight vs bird flu
Piñol said the government’s campaign to contain the bird flu outbreak has been “successful.” (READ: No confirmed human cases of bird flu yet)
Efforts include the killing of 421,132 birds in San Luis, Pampanga; 70,576 birds in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija; and at least 100,421 birds in Jaen, Nueva Ecija.
While the government has given assistance to affected farmers, Piñol said the damage wrought by the bird flu outbreak is “unquantifiable.”
Chicken growers in areas affected by the disease will only be able to raise chickens again after 4 months. (READ: Piñol expects bird flu outbreak to affect agri performance in Q3)
During the ceremony, Duterte and Piñol turned over assistance and compensation to farmers.
San Luis town received P20.7 million, farm owner Manuel Ortiz-Luis received P5.5 million, farm owner Mary Grace Castro received P209,000, and farm owner Magdalena Nagum received around P149,900. – Rappler.com
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