March 27, 2023

An open letter to the Benguet IATF

Officials of the Benguet Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) must know that the hundreds of truckers, their trucks, and the bags of chicken dung they sell along Halsema Highway in La Trinidad and Tublay, Benguet are potential, if not actual carriers, of the viruses that infect and kill people and animals, particularly pigs and chicken.
The sale and distribution of sacks of raw chicken dung, including those handling the product, must be checked by concerned offices.
The Benguet provincial government, Department of Agriculture, and the Philippine National Police must be reminded that these chicken dung are collected by hundreds of truckers from large poultry farms in provinces, or in areas with high cases of African swine fever (ASF), bird flu, and even Covid-19 before reaching their destinations in the Cordillera, particularly in Benguet and some parts of Mountain Province and Ifugao, where vast tracts of vegetable farms are located.
But some concerned provincial and national officials and offices seem to ignore or appear to be blind to the danger of the viruses emanating from chicken dung trade, which pose serious threats to the thousands of individuals in farming and non-farming communities in the highlands.
The unabated chicken dung trading also threatens thousands of small integrated farming families with their backyard swine and poultry farms, whose source of subsistence could be wiped out by ASF and bird flu.
As observed, chicken dung trading is openly conducted in densely populated business areas, and right along the Halsema Highway, which is in violation of national health and zoning policies.
For these chicken dung dealers’ trucks to freely pass daily through all the police checkpoints from points of origin to Benguet without being checked is an indication of how concerned officials and offices lack concern over the spread of these dreaded viruses.
We hope bringing this matter to the public will convince concerned officials and offices, especially the members of the Benguet IATF, to act to protect public health. — PETER M. COSALAN, Benguet

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