Customs agents at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have intensified their campaign against the entry of pork and other meat products contaminated with African Swine Fever.
NAIA Customs chief Carmelita Talusan said the move came following a meeting conducted by her office, officials of the Bureau of Animal Industry and members of the National African Swine Fever Task Force last Monday.
BAI Director III Dr. Simeon Amurao Jr. and Task Force chairman Dr. May Magno discussed during the briefings the possible entry of pork meats and other meat products from African Swine Fever Virus affected countries namely—China, Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.
In September and October last year, cases of pork meat products contamination have been recorded in Korea and Japan through dumplings and hotdog products.
According to the BAI, the outbreak of the virus can affect the 40 million plus live hogs/pigs in the Philippines and can destroy the P2 billion worth of swine industry in the country.
To safeguard against the epidemic, BAI personnel and Port of NAIA officials initiated more briefing and information dissemination to Customs NAIA frontliners of Terminals 1, 2 and 3 to strengthen the vigilance against the African Swine Fever.
Talusan said Customs personnel at the NAIA will continuously coordinate closely with other regulatory agencies to secure the borders against entry and exit of prohibited, regulated goods to protect the swine industry and livelihood in the Philippines.
The BOC also advised all returning overseas Filipino workers, balikbayans and foreign visitors to refrain from bringing meat or processed meat products from China, and European countries, for these would be confiscated and destroyed.
“Safe meat products accompanied by import permit or the Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Import Clearance are the ones qualified for release in Ports,” she said.
Talusan added that a Customs Guidelines flier for NAIA stakeholders which includes documentary requirements of all regulatory agencies for import and export were also provided to BAI.
Recently, Agriculture secretary Manny Piñol ordered the removal of the entire Quarantine Group assigned at the airport for their alleged failure to institute protocols to prevent the entry of pork products from areas affected by the African Swine Fever.
“The directive was for all Quarantine Stations to establish Footbaths in all entry points of the country, the interception and confiscation of all pork-based products,” he said.
The NAIA Quarantine Group was reportedly the only station which failed to carry out the directive, citing procurement issues.
The Philippine government will strictly implement measures to prevent the entry of pork products from countries affected by the African Swine Flu (ASF) amid reports that some one million kilos of frozen pork from Belgium, a country affected by the ASF, had entered the country late last year.
The Department of Agriculture last year banned the importation of pork products from Belgium, China, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine, which were infected by the ASF.
Meanwhile, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) on Tuesday called for a total ban on pork products from European countries amid reports of the African swine fever (ASF) affecting hogs in some nations there.
“Kasi yung sa European countries dikit-dikit din yan eh, so yung Germany and yung malapit sa Poland area, yung Poland kasi tinamaan din eh, so gusto natin is initially siguro total ban ang European countries,” said Rosendo So, the group’s chairman, in an interview on News To Go.
SINAG earlier bared that some one million kilos of frozen pork from Belgium, a country affected by the ASF, had entered the country late last year despite the ban on the importation of pork products from Belgium, China, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine.
“Galing ito sa Custom records, ‘no. Nakuha natin sa Custom records. Ito na yung mga pumasok ng October to November,” he said.
“So dapat, may record naman ang Bureau of Animal Industries, ma-check kung nasaan yung mga stock at kung may problema ito kailangan i-confiscate and sunugin na,” he added.
So urged the Department of Agriculture to “step up” in protecting the country from ASF-affected meats.
“We hope mag-step up ang ating Department of Agricultur. Siguro i-ban na rin yung European countries, syempre yun Russia area, tsaka itong China. Totally i-ban yung produkto papunta dito,” he said.
So said only 5 percent of pork in the country is imported.
He also said the Bureau of Animal Industry, which is under the DA, should have informed the Bureau of Customs regarding the possible risks in importing meats from the said countries.
“Kulang sa trabaho ang Bureau of Animal Industry, hindi ini-inform yung BOC,” So said.
Meanwhile, So clarified that the ASF can only affect hogs and not humans, which means it will be a threat only to hog raising industries but not to human health.
“Yung risk hindi sa tao, sa tao walang problema. For example, nakabili sila ng infected ng ASF at nadala sa bahay, maski niluto nila yan, papakain sa baboy, apektado pa rin ang baboy maski naluto yan,” he said.
“Yung baboy ang magkakasakit. Kung ung damit o sapatos nila contaminated, kumakalat ito. Kahit ung imported meat, imported longganisa, tocino, pag nadala yan sa bahay apektado ang alaga nila.”