STRENGTHENING OF THE ANIMAL INDUSTRY AND VETERINARY SERVICES
The livestock and poultry sectors in the Philippines will get adequate attention it deserves as a result of the passage of the proposed law that will restructure the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), a party list representative said on Thursday.
Filed by AAMBIS-Owa Party list Representative Sharon Garin, House Bill 5052 or the Animal Industry and Veterinary Services Act will update the 85 year-old law that created the Bureau of Animal Industry.
“Since 1930 the BAI has gone through several organizational changes mandated by several Republic Acts, Executive Orders, and Presidential Decrees. HB 5052 seeks to serve as a comprehensive law that will capture all those measures which detail the powers, functions and the restructuring of the Animal Industry Bureau of the Philippines,” Rep. Garin said.
BAI is an attached agency under the Department of Agriculture. Its functions include the investigation, reporting and prevention of the cause and dangers of communicable diseases among animals; research and development of animal health, welfare and food production; and regulation of imported and foreign animals.
The animal industry contributes a great deal to the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product. In the first quarter of 2014 alone, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics recorded that the livestock and poultry subsectors made up 30 percent of the country’s total agricultural output, amounting to Php 59.43 billion.
Dr. Maria Abenes, the Officer-in-Charge of the Animal Feeds and Veterinary and Biological Division of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said that with the outbreaks of communicable diseases coming from other countries, the Agriculture Industry is facing the threat of economic losses with far reaching effects. In order to minimize the effects of these threats and prevent the downfall of the animal industry, the BAI should be strengthened to cover the holistic need of the animal industry.
If enacted, the bureau will be converted to a National Livestock and Veterinary Services Authority (NLVSA) as provided in this proposed measure with the corresponding powers and functions necessary to pursue their duties.
The measure transfers all responsibilities of the DA’s regional staff performing veterinary services and functions to the Regional Livestock and Veterinary Services Offices.
One important provision of the law is the creation of the Disease Compensation and Eradication Trust Fund which will have an appropriation of an initial amount of 300 million pesos.
The fund shall be utilized for the payment of expenses directly connected with controlling, eradicating or preventing, the spread of any animal disease that is notifiable or emerging or re-emerging, exotic and zoonotic including administrative expenses.
Provisions for stricter regulations come with higher fees for penalties, which will ultimately benefit the industry. It will be imposed under the proposed law. Prohibited acts such as failure to report notifiable diseases; obstruction of NLVSA duties; false statements; non-registration of transport facilities and equipment; use of fake certificate; illegal manufacture and use of feeds and veterinary drugs; and refusal to vaccinate animals shall be penalized in accordance with the proposed law.
For example, the establishment owners found without a valid License to Operate from NLVSA or unlawfully using the registration number of another feed, veterinary biological products, veterinary drugs and products establishments shall, upon conviction, be penalized by a fine of 100 hundred thousand pesos and imprisonment of thirty (30) days.
HB 5052 is pending before the House Committee on Agriculture and Food. Hearings on the bill will be convened when Congress resumes session in May. /MP