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NR # 3107
Palatino wants to include farm animals in disaster preparedness program of the govt
A lawmaker has vowed to push for the passage in the next Congress of a bill that would include animals in disaster preparedness and relief operations during calamities. Rep. Raymond Palatino (Party-list, Kabataan) stressed the necessity to include animals in disaster preparedness and response programs of the government, saying that animals are highly valued as sources of food, income, transport and recreation in the country. Palatino said livestock and poultry account for roughly 30 percent of the total agriculture output, second only to the crop sector in terms of value contributed to the agricultural industry. Palatino cited the agricultural state of Louisiana in the United States, which declared its area under the so-called Emergency Support Function (ESF) to address all hazard preparedness and response to emergencies related to food, agriculture, livestock, and even household pets. “The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, the lead agency for evacuation and sheltering of household pets during declared disaster, has also prepared guidelines that will help owners prepare to evacuate their livestock and house hold pets at the time they evacuate from threatened areas,” Palatino said. Palatino said the devastating effects of calamities and other natural hazards that result in loss of countless lives, affecting hundreds of thousands of families and damaging billions worth of property can be mitigated by enacting a law that will address the problems. “By including animals in disaster preparedness and relief operations, the government also saves household’s sources of income and promotes faster recovery from the ill-effects of calamities,” Palatino said. Palatino said a common problem during disaster response efforts, especially in rural communities, is the refusal of residents to evacuate without their animals despite the clear and present danger. “Farmers refuse to leave their livestock which usually include water buffalos, cows, pigs, chickens and goats, as these are their main source of livelihood,” he said. Palatino said under Republic Act No. 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act of 1998, the state is duty-bound to protect animals. Section 6 of the Law prescribes that it is unlawful to neglect to provide adequate care, sustenance or shelter, or maltreat any animal. (30) eg