August 16, 2017
The Armed Forces of the Philippines will deploy some 300 soldiers to assist the Department of Agriculture in culling fowls, whose number has increased to 600,000 from 36 farms in Pampanga where avian flu cases were recorded, officials said on Wednesday.
In a press conference at the DA office in Quezon City, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said owners of other poultry farms within the 7-kilometer control zone in Pampanga have volunteered to cull their chickens and ducks even if there were no confirmed cases of bird flu in the 30 other farms.
He said the owners found a hard time to sell their products, thus, instead of spending for fowls' food and farm operations, they would rather have them culled.
Last Friday, the DA initially estimated that 200,000 fowls from six farms in two villages in San Luis town would be culled due to bird flu outbreak.
As of Wednesday morning, about 73,000 fowls have already been culled.
Pinol said the other culled chicken would be burned instead of burying them due to the condition of the soil.
Malacanang earlier said the AFP could help the DA and the Bureau of Animal Industry in culling the animals.
Brig. Gen. Rodel Mauro Alarcon of the Philippine Army said during the press conference that they would deploy 300 soldiers, as requested by the DA, to help in culling the fowls.
The military personnel, who could be deployed to Pampanga on Thursday would come from the Army's 7th Infantry Division in Northern Luzon.
Assistant Health Secretary Eric Tayag said those who would be involved in the culling of birds would take prophylaxis for their protection.
He said 8,000 capsules were sent to Pampanga and the DOH has a stockpile of 800,000 capsules more.
Tayag said the two individuals from Pampanga suspected of bird flu infection were tested negative.
With the bird flu outbreak, Pinol said at least P100 million is needed to assist those affected.
He said he would meet with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang on Wednesday to update him on the bird flu outbreak and to ask for the release of the fund.
While the 600,000 fowls to be culled could just be "negligible" compared to the 175 million poultry population nationwide, the DA chief said the outbreak, however, has huge psychological effect among the populace.
Some local government units in Luzon have banned the entry of poultry products from Pampanga.
Poultry owners in Luzon reportedly asked the DA to lift the ban in bringing poultry products outside Luzon.
But Pinol, who admitted that the outbreak is a "nightmare" for him, said, "I will be willing to be accused of overreacting" than allowing the avian flu to possibly contaminate other farms in the country. Celerina Monte/DMS
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