Capitol pays 316 cullers

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    SAN LUIS, Pampanga – The 316 farm workers, including residents, who helped in the culling of fowls, received their promised compensation from the provincial government in a simple ceremony at the Dr. Emigdio Bondoc Convention Center here on Wednesday.

    Each worker was paid P700 for every day of labor they made during the 10-day culling period where around 470,640 chicken layers, broilers, ducks, pigeons, game fowls, native chickens and quails within the 1-kilometer quarantine zone in Barangay San Carlos here and the 7-kilometer controlled area surrounding it were destroyed.

    Vice Gov. Dennis “Delta” Pineda personally handed to the farm workers the total amount of P750,400 as their payment from the provincial government.

    The Department of Agriculture (DA) earlier gave them P5,000 each and loaned them P20,000 each which is payable in three years without interests.

    It was noted during the ceremony that not one of the farm workers, some coming from as far as the Visayas and Southern Luzon to work here, showed symptoms of the flu virus.

    Pineda announced that a cash-for-work program for the jobless farmhands will also be offered to them by the Capitol in conjunction with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to tide them over during the three-month moratorium period.

    The provincial government hired them to speed up the destruction of egg-laying chickens, ducks and quails in order to prevent the spread of the bird fl u virus outside the quarantined zone around barangays San Carlos and Sta. Rita, the vice governor said.

    “Thank you for helping save the poultry industry in our province because culling was one way to stop the spread of the virus,” said Pineda, vice chair of the Pampanga Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

    The farm workers were assisted by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) the provincial government as well as 300 soldiers in the culling period.

    To contain the outbreak, the provincial government deployed a medical team that conducted checkups, vaccinated 220 workers and gave tamifl u to farm personnel, residents, provincial and municipal personnel involved in the culling.

    On August 11, DA Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol declared an avian influenza outbreak here.

    On August 28, President Duterte visited Pampanga and declared that the outbreak was over as he vouched for the safety of poultry products in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.

    To prove his words, the president joined other government officials including Gov. Lilia “Nanay Baby” Pineda, Mayor Venancio “Asiong” Macapagal, Representatives Gloria Arroyo (2nd district, Pamp.) and Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales (3rd district, Pamp.) and Pinol, in a boodle fight where he ate chickens, ballots and fried itik.

    Meanwhile, Roy Abaya, DA Central Luzon director, said the BAI will release and grow chicks in the area to know if the poultry farms are avian fl u-free. The sentinel stocks will be tested several times in 35 days until the 90-day period is completed.

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