MAGARAO CAM.SUR – The 222 hog owners in this municipality breathed a sigh of relief and went home beaming upon receiving their indemnification pay from the Department of Agriculture for the hogs they surrendered for culling last March after their barangays have been declared infected with the African Swine Fever. The cheerful faces and jovial atmosphere were in contrast to the forlorn looks and somber mood that pervaded when the same farmers were convened to brief them that their treasured pigs have to be depopulated as part of the protocol in controlling the ASF Virus.

While the DA did not give a definite timeline when the indemnification will be available, the farmers were surprised but thankful that it came sooner than they expected. A day before, they were informed that the next day Thursday, April 16 they will receive their payment. True enough the next day a team from the DA regional office headed by Dr. Edgar R. Madrid DA Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulatory came and paid each affected farmer in cash, the amount corresponding to the number of pigs they surrendered for culling. For each head of culled pig DA paid P5,000 but only a maximum of 20 pigs were allowed for each backyard hog owner. For the 843 heads of pigs owned by the 222 backyard hog raisers, DA paid a total amount of P4,215,000 million.

In his message RTD Madrid explained that the depopulation of the pigs have to be done to prevent the further spread of the ASF. He thanked the farmers for their cooperation even if it was a difficult decision they have to make. “Yaon kami ngonian to fulfill our promise that we will pay you. The DA Regional Office exerted all efforts to fast track the indemnification,” he added.

In compliance with the protocol under the Enhanced Community Quarantine amid the COVID 19 threat, the recipients of the indemnification were clustered by barangay according to their geographical locations. Social and physical distancing was observed and the distribution was made as quick as possible. The recipients were not allowed to tarry or linger in the venue and no bystanders were allowed.

One of the recipients was Delfin Lucero of Barangay San Francisco. He was paid P100,000 for the 20 pigs he surrendered. “Kan naaraman ko na igwa na kaidtong helang kan orig digdi samo pighanda ko na sadiri ko. Mayo man kaming maginibo kundi magsunod sa gobyerno. Pero naogma akong marhay na nabayadan man tolos kami . Cash pati. Halat ko din rekomendasyon kan DA kung pwde na o noarin giraray pwede mag ataman nin orig”, he said.

Crisanto Inacay of Barangay San Miguel shared that it was difficult letting go of their pigs. “Ang duwa pati kaidtong fatteners ko nabayadan na nin advance kan mabakal. Kaya lng naisip ko nagheherelang na mga orig lalo pa iyan malakop kung dai kami masunod. Marahay sana ngani su hayop lang ang may helang bako man su tawo”, he rationalized. “Ogma asin nagpapasalamat ako sa DA ta nabayadan man tolos kami. Tamang tama ini ngonian na may krisis kita , apektado ang hanap buhay. Dakulang tabang ini. Saka maibabalik ko na su pigadvance sako”, he added.

Eliza Pabitero from Barangay San Miguel was so happy as she received P80,000 for her 16 hogs. “Kan kinua sako su mga orig ko makulog na marhay sa boot. Siyempre ginastusan ito” , she related “Pero ngonian maogma asin nagpapasalamat ako. Dai ko ngani expected na mabayadan tolos. Dakulang tabang ini ngonian. Ang iba gamiton ko naman capital. Siguro maataman muna nin itik “, she replied when asked what she plans to do with her money.

Meanwhile DA-Bicol Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla disclosed that aside from the indemnification or cash payment the DA will provide other assistance to the affected hog raisers as it now prepares a rehabilitation plan to help resuscitate the hog industry in the affected municipalities. He said that amid the Extended Enhanced Community Quarantine, DA continues to deliver and provide goods services and interventions to help farmers and agri -stakeholders in this difficult time and ensure that food is available, accessible and affordable as we all struggle to rise above this crisis via the ALPAS Program, or Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat Laban sa COVID 19. (Emily B. Bordado/DA-RAFIS 5)