These were the measures adopted by the provincial government of Nueva Ecija as a response to the bird flu virus problem detected in Barangay San Roque in San Isidro town and in Barangay Imbunia in Jaen.
“Double your guard and restrict people in wandering within the one-kilometer radius of the two barangays,” Gov. Czarina Umali told members of the avian influenza task force and other involved in the culling operations of the two villages and in the environs within the contained areas.
Subjects of the culling operation, started more than a week ago, were more than 200,000 egg laying quails in Imbunia, 70,000 chickens in a poultry farm in San Roque, and other feathered animals in the contained areas.
The operation was set to be completed Friday. Acting on the request of Umali, the provincial board declared the towns of San Isidro and Jaen in a state of calamity. Acting unanimously on Tuesday afternoon, the board also approved two other measures requested by the governor and another resolution endorsed by a game fowl group in the province.
“The members (of the board) were given thorough briefing by officials of the offices of the provincial government tasked to respond to the problem that beset these two towns,” Gian Carlo Bumanlag, provincial board secretary, said. “They understood well the problems and did not hesitate to approve the requests of Gov. Umali,” he added.
The other measures approved in the session presided by acting vice governor Rommel Padilla were the release of P2.7 million of the unused calamity fund in 2016 to support the culling operations and other contingencies.
“Additional amounts needed to rehabilitate the (poultry and quail) industries in these two barangays have been authorized to be released by the board,” Bumanlag said. “The amount which will come from the province’s calamity fund will be determined by the members of the group tasked by the governor to respond to the problem in the two towns,” he added.
In another resolution relative to the bird flu problem, the board approved the banning of the holding of cockfights in the province for two weeks.
Bumanlag said the resolution was endorsed by a game fowl group in the province understandably to preclude spread of the virus among the fighting cocks. The fighting cocks are relatively very pricey compared to the ordinary feathered animals being raised.
About 300 soldiers were fielded for the culling operation in these two barangays and for the checkpoints within the seven-kilometer radius outside of the contained areas. They were assisted by members of the task force, poultry helpers and some volunteers.
The culling operations include the capture and killing of freeranged feathered animals of residents within the contained areas. The killed animals are buried in common pits and covered with thick layers of soil.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Umali said that in order to help the affected owners of the culled feathered animals in re-starting their business she is authorizing the giving of relief assistance of up to P10,000 to owners raising 5,000 feathered animals.
Others who have lesser number of culled animals, who included those raising them for home consumption, would be given proportionate amounts.
Other needed financial assistance would be given upon determination by the members of the Provincial Disaster and Risk Management Council, she said.
The task force, meanwhile, debunked rumors that the virus has affected human persons in or outside of the contained and controlled areas in the province.