Senator Cynthia Villar on Wednesday described as a “welcome development” the World Health Organization’s call to stop the sale of live wild animals in food markets to prevent the emergence of new diseases like Covid-19.
Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, said she had repeatedly warned of chronic disease transmission from wild animals.
She said research indicated that the constant exploitation of wild fauna and their habitats had raised the risk of zoonotic disease transmission or the transmission of disease from animals to humans.
WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said the WHO, the World Organization for Animal Health and the United Nations Environment Program had said that wild animals were the source of most emerging infectious diseases in humans and recommended measures to reduce the potential risk.
“Covid-19 has brought new attention to this threat, given the magnitude of its consequences,” stressed Chaib.
Villar said she hoped the Philippine government would heed the call of the WHO to avert emerging infectious diseases like the new coronavirus.
“I hope all concerned government agencies will impose a ban on the catching and sale of wild animals in local markets to avert a recurrence of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Villar.
She said there should be tough measures for the strict enforcement of this prohibition to guarantee wild animals, which can be the source of virus, would no longer find their way to the markets for human consumption.
“We wanted to protect our people and the world from new viruses in humans like this new coronavirus, which has affected and claimed the lives of millions of people worldwide,” said Villar.
Last month, Villar filed Senate Bill 2078 or the “Revised Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2021,” amending the 20-year-old RA 9147.
The bill seeks to strengthen the wildlife conservation and protection mechanism in the Philippines as the incidence of wildlife crimes had evolved and grown, violators had become more equipped, organized and syndicated or with international connections.
WHO, OIE and UNEP recalled that some of the earliest known cases of Covid-19 had links to a wholesale traditional food market in Wuhan, China. They noted that the majority of the initial patients were stall owners, market employees or regular visitors to the Wuhan market.
The agencies related that samples from the Wuhan market suggested that it might be the source of the coronavirus pandemic’s outbreak. They also raised the possibility that SARS-CoV-2-the virus that causes Covid-19 disease—originated in wild animals.