By Vincent Mariel P. Galang, September 16 2019; Business World

Image Credit to Philippine Star

THE government has not yet identified the farmers who dumped dead pigs found in a major Metro Manila river but warned hog raisers that disposing of dead animals in waterways is illegal and facilitates the spread of diseases like African Swine Fever (ASF).

Marikina City Veterinarian Manuel C. Carlos told BusinessWorld by phone that river recovery operations in the city have been suspended pending a finding on the hogs’ cause of death.

Pinagbawal ni Mayor Marcelino [R.] Teodoro lahat ng activities dito kasi nga hindi natin alam kung ano yung ikinamatay nung mga baboy (the mayor has suspended recovery operations because the cause of death has not been determined),” he said.

He added that ASF is not thought to be transmissible to humans but the carcasses may be harboring other diseases.

Between Sept. 12 and 15, 58 dead pigs were recovered from the Marikina River.

Mr. Carlos said the authorities are still trying to determine the farms where the dead pigs are from and is awaiting the outcome of laboratory tests to confirm the cause of death.

He also said that water samples from the river are also being examined for contamination, adding that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is conducting the tests, which will take seven days.

Dead pigs have also been found at a creek in barangay Bagong Silangan, Quezon City. The Quezon City Veterinary Office declined to comment.

In an appearance Saturday on CNN Philippines, Quezon City Mayor Josefina G. Belmonte said: “Two barangays, I think, have been verified (as) positive (for) ASF.”

“There are three pigs that have been found in a creek in Barangay Bagong Silangan; it has now been verified that there are 11 mortalities in Barangay Bagong Silangan and they have been tested positive for African Swine Fever… that’s one barangay,” she said.

According to Google Maps, parts of Barangay Silangan border the Marikina river. The barangay is also directly east of Payatas, which is located on the shore of the La Mesa reservoir.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said Ms. Belonte’s determination of the disease was “too early” given that the time it takes to test for ASF.

Meanwhile, Malacañang said President Rodrigo R. Duterte will not be issuing any orders on ASF, saying that it expects the DA to take the lead.

“There’s no need for any directive from the Palace simply because the DA Secretary knows what he is going to do. He’s been tasked to do it, and he is doing it,” the President’s Spokesperson, Salvador S. Panelo, said in a briefing.

The DA warned hog raisers against dumping dead pigs into waterways without reporting the deaths to the authorities. Quarantine procedures require that pigs killed by a suspected disease or culling be buried.

Dumping into rivers is ”utterly irresponsible on the part of the backyard raisers as they did not only violate the laws, but (they) also spread the disease pathogens much faster,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said in a statement.

He said these hog raisers have violated Republic Act 8485, or the Animal Welfare Act. Violators face imprisonment of at between six months and two years or a fine of between P1,000 and P5,000.

Another possible law they have violated is RA 9003, or the Solid Waste Management Act, he said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang