The Puerto Princesa City Veterinary Office (CVO) is aiming to secure a P26 million grant from the Department of Agriculture (DA) for post-Odette livestock recovery, in order to ensure that the program will continue after the May 9 elections.

According to city veterinarian Dr. Indira Santiago, the recovery and rehabilitation program for local livestock owners was delayed because they were unable to make the March 25 deadline.

“Ang livestock rehabilitation nag-uumpisa pa lang. Kasi mag-eeleksyon na tayo, may ban pagdating sa pagdownload ng pondo. Yong DA, supposedly, magbibigay ng P26-million plus para sa livestock repopulation. Ang problema, kailangan maihabol before March 25,” Santiago said in a phone interview on Tuesday.

She added that they have already secured a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the DA for the funding, but they will still meet with top officials to secure the funds after the May 9 elections. She said that the tentative date for the meeting is April 27 and that they’re working on travel arrangements for the officials.

“We are hoping na after the elections, mag-push through pa yong kanilang programa,” she added.

Santiago explained that the City Veterinary Office is in charge of procuring livestock animals such as cows, goats, and pigs, which will then be distributed to around 639 local livestock farmers and organizations who have signed up for assistance.

“Hangga’t wala pang funding, hanggang paglilista muna ang City Vet ng mga gustong mag-avail sa recovery program,” she said.

Santiago said she will also discuss the city government’s plans to improve the conditions of the local livestock farmers with the DA, adding that both Puerto Princesa’s and Palawan’s livestock have the potential to improve and thrive due to the absence of serious animal diseases.

“Gusto kong i-emphasize doon na ang Palawan at ang Puerto Princesa ay matagal nang sinasabing may malaki ang potential for livestock raising. Maraming opportunities, kagaya ng sa diseases, such as ASF, classified tayo as green. Pagdating sa avian influenza, na maraming kumakat sa Luzon, wala rin tayo noon. Kahit sa hog cholera, hindi tayo nakaka-experience noon,” she explained.

“We are internationally recognized as [disease]-free zones. Pero ang problema lang natin ay wala na nga tayong livestock. Ang mga backyards natin dinaanan ng bagyo, talagang nag-suffer tayo,” she added.