By Louise Maureen Simeon, October 1 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

Swine disease reaches Pangasinan barangay

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is nowhere near containing African swine fever (ASF) as the number of culled pigs increases and more areas are affected – with the province of Pangasinan being the latest to report the virus.

President Duterte has ordered agencies  led by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to contain the spread of ASF after receiving reports of the new cases in Pangasinan.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the government has already culled 20,000 pigs, higher than the 15,000 reported last week. The Philippines has 12.8 million hogs.

“As of today, we have culled 20,000 heads. One-third of that was due to the ASF virus and the other two-thirds are not affected but were culled because of our 1-7-10 protocol,” Dar said at a joint briefing with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno yesterday.

“Most of the 20,000 heads came from Bulacan, from those areas we are cordoning and under quarantine. We also have from nearby Pampanga which is not as many as those in Bulacan,” he added.

While Dar did not disclose the total number of areas affected, industry stakeholders said 16 areas in the country are now affected with ASF.

The latest addition to the list is Pangasinan after 15 out of 30 blood samples taken from hogs seized and condemned in Barangay Baloling in Mapandan tested positive for ASF.

“There was a trader trucking about 30 heads or so coming from Bulacan and they transported it to Pangasinan and it’s good that the local government unit placed checkpoints,” Dar said.

The trader was not able to show the necessary documents for the transport, which led to the LGU holding the truck and requesting the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to take blood samples.

“Pangasinan has decided to depopulate and apply our 1-7-10 protocol in that area where that truck was stationed and about a thousand pigs were culled, which is already part of the 20,000,” Dar said.

“What they did is a good move to help us stop and prevent the spread of the virus,” he added.

Under the 1-7-10 protocol, the one-kilometer radius of the site of infection or ground zero will be prohibited from bringing in and out any hogs in the area which will eventually be depopulated. For the seven-kilometer radius, hogs will be under surveillance with restricted movements while blood testing will be undertaken. For the 10-kilometer radius, mandatory monitoring and reporting of swine disease occurrences shall be implemented.

Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino III has urged mayors and barangay captains to stay vigilant in guarding all entry points in the province, especially barangay roads which are used by illegal traders to transport live swine sourced from areas affected by ASF.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the virus may spread to other parts of the country but the agriculture department is taking measures to prevent it.

“The orders will be to contain it, stop it,” Panelo said at a press briefing yesterday.

Asked if Malacañang is satisfied with the way the agriculture department is handling the ASF problem, Panelo replied, “I’m sure the secretary of agriculture is competent enough to handle this situation. He hasn’t said anything about not handling it.”

No infestation yet

Jovito Tabajeros, acting provincial veterinarian of Pangasinan, said he cannot say that Pangasinan is already ASF-affected as they have not seen any infestation yet of pigs from the province.

“What happened was, only the ones brought from Bulacan and confiscated immediately here were tested positive for ASF virus,” he stressed.

Tabajeros admitted that the 11 quarantine checkpoints in Pangasinan are not enough because there are small streets and alleyways that some unscrupulous businessmen use to evade checkpoints.

Jhonabeth Pajarillaga, regional veterinary quarantine officer of the BAI, emphasized there is no ASF outbreak in Pangasinan because the ones that tested positive came from Bulacan.

Swine traders Roger Erpelo and Jaime Garcia, both residents of Barangay Baloling in Mapandan, violated Executive Order 0092-2019, or the temporary total ban on the entry of all live pigs into the province.

Provincial legal officer Geraldine Baniqued said the traders did not only violate the executive order but also the illegal sourcing of hogs from Bulacan, which is severely affected by ASF.

“The provincial government will file a case against the erring hog traders for harming the swine industry in Pangasinan. Some hog raisers have also signified their intention to also file a case,” she added.

Rosendo So, chairman of Samahan ng Industriyang Agrikultura (SINAG), is urging provincial officials to charge the businessmen who brought the live pigs from Bulacan to Pangasinan.

So said there must be accountability on the traders “because imagine the damage they did to the area within the one-kilometer radius to the detriment of other hog raisers there.”

In related news, six pigs were seized from the backyard piggery of a certain Lemuel Chico and culled for suspected carriers of ASF virus on Sept. 29 in Barangay Guesang, Mangaldan, Pangasinan.

At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport terminal 1 over the weekend, Reynaldo Quilang of the BAI said yesterday that more than 50 kilos of meat brought by passengers from Xiamen and Guangzhou, China and from Incheon, South Korea were confiscated.

Quilan added that they are strictly implementing the “no meat policy” at the airport to prevent the spread of ASF. He also said that all kinds of meat, poultry products and canned goods are still prohibited, especially those coming from ASF-affected countries.

In an advisory dated Sept. 23, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director general Eric Domingo said all concerned processed pork manufacturers are enjoined to make sure that they only use raw pork meat certified by the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).

Domingo noted that establishments should ensure that “only carcass/meat from NMIS-accredited slaughterhouses or abattoirs shall be utilized in the manufacturing of pork meat products.”

“Likewise, those establishments acquiring raw pork from wet markets, meat shops, groceries and other meat outlets are reminded to purchase only those that have been inspected and permitted by NMIS inspectors, veterinary inspectors or meat control officers,” he added.

Meanwhile, the local government of Manila has joined the DA in promoting and convincing the consuming public that eating pork is safe.

Dar, Moreno and industry stakeholders held a boodle fight at the Manila City Hall on Monday to prove pork consumption is not harmful even amid ASF.

“Manila will continue to promote local produce and we will be relentless in going after those engaging in illegal activities with regard to selling imported meat products,” Moreno said.

Manila is a major gateway of imported products, most of which are coming from various ports in the city. Manila is also a major entry point of local agriculture produce.

“We will continue to help those industries in North and Central Luzon for their goods to be allowed in Manila. If we buy local, it will be better for our farmers and producers, especially in the provinces,” the mayor said.  – With Sheila Crisostomo, Eva Visperas, Cesar Ramirez, Rudy Santos, Alexis Romero