CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in Northern Mindanao has tapped the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the local government units in ensuring that the African Swine Fever (ASF) will not spread to the region.
BAI has conducted orientation on the ASF to police personnel and barangay officials as of Friday (Feb. 14), said Jake Sepe, the agency’s veterinary officer. He added that those who have been oriented are from areas where the quarantine checkpoints are located.
Sepe said the information and education campaign to law enforcers and local officials is one of BAI’s strategies in preventing the spread of the dreaded disease currently affecting the country’s swine industry.
“We are prepared in our entry and exit points,” Sepe said in an interview Wednesday (Feb. 12).
Currently, there are nine checkpoints in Bukidnon while there are four in Cagayan de Oro. The former borders the Davao region where the ASF outbreak was reported, particularly in the provinces of Davao Occidental and Davao del Sur.
Aside from requiring the riding public to step on the footbath at designated quarantines, Sepe said they are also profiling cargo vehicles suspected of carrying livestock infected with ASF.
“We are closely monitoring vehicles, especially those coming from affected areas, and check those which are suspicious-looking,” he said.
He said they will not let their guards down as ASF-infected hogs and pig meat products that can enter the region will affect its swine industry.
One of the leading hog producers
Carlota Madriaga, DA-10 regional technical director, said the region is ranked as third highest producer of hogs in the country.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said Northern Mindanao produced 56.61 thousand metric tons of live weight hogs, next to Central Luzon’s 97.22 thousand metric tons and Calabarzon’s 103.10 thousand metric tons from October to December 2019.
In the region, Bukidnon is the highest swine producer at 555,230 heads out of 997,870 heads, said the PSA in its livestock and poultry situation report as of July 1, 2019.
Ban on pigs, pork products
To prevent the disease from spreading further, both the Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental provincial governments declared a ban on pigs and pork products, with Bukidnon declaring a ban since September last year.
Early this month, Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano, through Executive Order 002-2020, has imposed a temporary ban on local pork and pork-based products, including boar semen for breeding, from elsewhere in the country until the BAI clears the Davao region and other parts of the Philippines from ASF.
Last year, Emano, with the help of hog-raisers in the region, organized a pork grill party to show that the province is ASF-free.
But now that ASF has reached Mindanao and will possibly affect his province, Emano said, “it is now a major and more serious concern, this requiring an urgent need to implement responsive protective measures to help guarantee that the province remains ASF-free.” (davaotoday.com)