PAMPANGA (Pampanga) -- President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday led a boodle-fight of chicken-based dishes in the City of San Fernando to prove to the public that poultry products from Central Luzon are safe for human consumption despite the bird flu outbreak in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija. "I assure the public that the poultry products in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija are safe for consumptions and that we, in government, are undertaking efforts to stamp out the outbreak and minimize its impact in the country," Duterte said in a speech.
Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (Pampanga, 2nd district), Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda, Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol and other government officials joined Duterte in the boodle fight. They feasted on poultry delicacies such as chicken adobo, boiled fertilized duck eggs, boiled duck eggs, fried ducks, and fried quails. Duterte commended the Department of Agriculture officials for their "quick" and "decisive" action in containing the bird flu outbreak. "I commend the DA officials for their quick and decisive action in squarely confronting and containing the avian flu outbreak," Duterte said. The bird flu outbreak has affected the poultry farms in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija. Pinol said the spread of the virus resulted in the depopulation of 421,132 fowls in San Luis, Pampanga; 70,576 in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija, and 100,421 in Jaen, Nueva Ecija. Pinol reassured the public that poultry goods are now free from avian flu. Duterte said the DA would extend assistance to affected poultry farms, through interventions like loans and capacity-building trainings. The President added that awareness drives on avian influenza would be strengthened nationwide to avoid public's speculation and confusion regarding the Influenza A H5N6 virus. "We ask the full cooperation and assistance, not only of the poultry industry, but also of the general public, to make sure that disease outbreaks such as this are reported to authorities at the onset of its occurrence," the President said. "Our goal is clear and simple: Put the industry firmly back into the path of high growth and progress so that it can continue to contribute to our nation's food security and to our economic growth," he added. (SunStar Philippines)