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EDITORIAL: Breeding Opportunism

The government through the Department of Agriculture (DA) is poised to declare a state of emergency in response to the worsening dwindling supply of pork primarily due to the African Swine Fever (ASF).

The plague has brought to their knees principally small and medium scale hog raisers. Among the hardest hit is the Bicol region and the problem seems to be without any solution within the foreseeable future.

That pork vendors/traders are actually still generating a considerable profit is a given. This is so because they are not in reality suffering so much from the ASF, compared to the most severely affected hog raisers, who have been hit by a number of factors, among which are the following: depopulation of their swine, never ending high cost of inputs, and failure of the government to initiate efforts to come up with a vaccine in order to stamp out the hog illness .

Of late, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson has bared a P6 billion racket behind pork imports. A very serious concern that needs prompt action.

But before we go into that, priority needs to be given to the perceived corruption within the DA. Foremost is the usual anomaly involved in hog dispersal. This irregularity has long been haunting the Bureau of Animal Industry.

Piglets are offered to interested beneficiaries but at a highly scandalous price. The situation renders it very prone to irregularities the moment local government leaders are given a hand in the dispersal scheme.

Money in excess of the actual cost of piglets passes hands under the table. Due to the almost zero availability of piglets, in order for backyard hog raisers to start all over again, they are left no choice but to swallow hook- line- and -sinker the conditionalities appurtenant thereto.

If the government is indeed serious in saving the hog industry, there should be no room for irregularities. As a follow through, measures need to be adopted to bring down the cost of feeds and veterinary inputs. Earnest efforts to come up with a vaccine in order to combat the ASF is also a top priority.

Meantime, Senator Lacson’s concern about “tongpats” (kickback) deserves a serious consideration. It is suspected that these problems haunting the hog industry are actually intended to justify the declaration of a state of emergency to give way to the opportunists. History tells us that for every crisis this nation encounters, many have found it an opportune time to enrich themselves.

Some even found gold in scrap iron and a number of them eventually landed into juicy government positions, while at the same time amassing wealth via questionable land acquisition, illegal logging, illegal mining and quarrying, smuggling, anomalous importation, illegal drug trading, rigged bidding, human trafficking, and pork barrel.

The consumers deserve ample protection. In the interplay among the hog raisers, consumers and vendors/traders, the latter stand less disadvantaged. They can easily adapt. When they purchase live hogs at high cost they can readily recover by adjusting the cost of pork and once they adjust their prices, pork consumers stand to suffer. That is why declaring pork holidays by vendors is uncalled for.

Declaration of state of emergencies may actually be breeding opportunism.


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