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Department of Agriculture chief defends holding 400 gamefowls at NAIA

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Department of Agriculture chief defends holding 400 gamefowls at NAIA
In a statement, Tiu Laurel maintained that the move was a standard precautionary measure taken by BAI to prevent the potential spread of avian influenza to the multibillion-peso Philippine poultry industry.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. came to the rescue of the newly appointed officer-in-charge (OIC) of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) after an importer of 400 gamefowls cried harassment over the decision to prevent the release of the fight roosters.

In a statement, Tiu Laurel maintained that the move was a standard precautionary measure taken by BAI to prevent the potential spread of avian influenza to the multibillion-peso Philippine poultry industry.

“The BAI acted on information received regarding imported breeding stocks from California, one of two states in the US – the other is Ohio – where we had banned importation of birds, including poultry products, due to recent outbreaks of H5N1, a highly pathogenic avian influenza strain,” Tiu Laurel said.

Juan Bacar Jr., consignee of the imported gamefowls, said that the animals have complete papers, including export clearance, veterinary certificate, blood test results and certificate of quarantine as he accused BAI OIC Enrico Miguel Capulong of harassment.

Tiu Laurel appointed Capulong this week, replacing former Paul Limson, who was transferred to the DA-Biotechnology Program Office (BPO).

Two of the 400 imported gamefowls being held by the BAI at Ninoy Aquino International Airport have died, according to Tiu Laurel.

“We’re just being extra careful and vigilant in protecting our poultry industry, not to mention the fast-growing gamefowl breeding sector. The spread of avian influenza from imported birds could immensely damage our poultry sector and could wipe out billions of pesos in investments, endanger thousands of jobs and potentially undermine our food security,” he added.

Tiu Laurel said that as a further biosecurity measure, the BAI conducted a random sampling of 30 heads and tested the gamefowls for bird flu.

He said if test results are negative, the gamefowls can be officially discharged.

In an interview with The STAR, Bacar has vowed to file charges before the Office of the Ombudsman and the Anti-Red Tape Authority for alleged harassment.

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

NAIA

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