MANILA - An official of an agriculture group on Tuesday hit back at former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol for dragging his name on the issue surrounding the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in the country.
Rosendo So, chairman of the Samahang Industriya sa Agrikultura (Sinag) took exception to Piñol's statement naming him as adviser to current DA secretary William Dar.
"The only time I personally met Secretary Dar was just a few weeks ago, several days after his appointment to the position," So said in a statement.
So clarified that Sinag's engagement with current and previous heads of the DA remain the same.
"We take the interest of the small farmers and backyard raisers and push policies to protect our local agriculture," he said.
In a radio interview, Piñol criticized Dar for saying that cases of ASF were reported some 3 months before he assumed office. He said Dar should have prepared for the problems he expected to encounter before he took office instead of identifying Piñol's people and dressing down officials in public.
"Let me just remind them that some of those officials are presidential appointees who campaigned hard for the victory of President Duterte at the time Sec. Dar and his adviser, Rosendo So, were campaigning for another Presidential Candidate," said Piñol.
But So pointed out that quarantine protocols and preventive measures should have been in place since the abnormal deaths of pigs around ground zero was reported as early as July this year.
The group, he said, has called on the Senate committee on agriculture to investigate the matter and would waste no time in charging officials found liable for abdicating their duty to protect the hog industry and the local agriculture sector.
“This is economic sabotage for the P416-billion hog sector and a host of allied industries that rely on it,” So said.
Dar, who is in Iloilo City, urged a stop to the bickering and said all focus should be on how to prevent the disease from spreading to other areas.
“Huwag na kong mag-comment trabaho lang tayo, management, containment, and control of African Swine Fever. This is not the time [for] bickering," he said.
(I won't comment anymore, let's work for the management, containment, and control of African Swine Fever.)
The DA said it has not monitored new areas where ASF is present.
“Wala pa pero dapat paigtingin ang implementasyon, preventive, at quarantine measure at mga food safety measures para handa tayo kung mayroon man,” he said.
(None so far but we need to strengthen the implementation, preventive and quarantine measure and prepare food safety measures just in case.)
- With a report from Jennifer Garcia Hernandez, ABS-CBN News