No foul play as Army troops set out to annihilate bird flu-stricken fowls

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – About 100 Army troopers will not see action in wartorn Marawi City and instead trooped to San Luis town in Pampanga province for a different kind of mission: Annihilate fowls within the 100-kilometer radius quarantine areas.

“We have deployed an initial 100 soldiers from the 48th Infantry Battalion, stationed in Bulacan to assist health and veterinarians in culling thousands of birds,” said Major General Angelito de Belen, Commanding General of the 7th Infantry Division.

De Belen said the soldiers have to undergo brief training on the proper handling of fowls before they are dispatched to undertake their task. “They must be capacitated first on the disposal protocol before they are exposed to a special tasking.”

He added that coordination had been made with the local government and health officials for our soldiers to be capacitated in terms of proper disposal and protocol.

The number of troopers dispatched to San Luis, De Belen said was just an initial augmentation by the armed forces aimed to expedite the culling of 200,000 heads of fowls, quails, and ducks to prevent the spread of avian influenza virus.

“If the need arises, we are ready to dispatch additional troops,” said De Belen over the phone adding that being soldiers this is part of our implied tasks.

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) earlier said that it will extend the culling operations for another week due to lack of manpower. “The culling is so laborious that needs manpower to speed-up the process.”

Dr. Arlene Vytiaco, BAI spokesperson, said the culling process is done through suffocation using carbon dioxide before the birds are buried in a dry land. Another option is to set the birds on fire.

“With that magnitude of birds to be buried, we might as well run out of space in San Luis,” a local folk told reporters.

De Belen said soldiers are ready for any eventualities, may it involved in security, disaster and calamities. “We are always ready.

He said Army troopers were deployed complete with their own probation enough for the duration of their stay in the area. “local government units need not to worry our soldiers.”