ASF outbreak Agri’s challenge

Malacañang on Monday expressed confidence the Department of Agriculture is competent enough to handle the African swine fever following the reported deaths of 15 pigs from a Bulacan town.

READ: Dreaded virus zaps pigs

“I’m sure the Secretary of Agriculture is competent enough to handle this situation. He hasn’t said anything about not handling it,’’ Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.

His statement came after Pangasinan authorities said the infected pigs delivered from their province came from Bustos town in Bulacan.

Panelo also said Malacañang respects the decision of some local government units to ban the entry of live pigs and pork products from Luzon areas affected by the African swine fever.

READ: ASF-control areas widen

The cities of Cebu and Davao, as well as the provinces of Bohol and Negros Oriental, have imposed restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of ASF, which is fatal to pigs but not harmful to humans.

“If their decision, we have to respect them. They are only trying to protect their constituents,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

On Monday, Manila airport authorities seized more than 50 kilos of meat brought over the weekend by air travelers mostly from China, an official said Monday.

Reynaldo Quilang of the Bureau of Animal Industry said the confiscated meat was discovered being carried by arriving passengers at the NAIA Terminal 1 from Xiamen and Guangzhou in China and from Incheon in South Korea.

Quilan said airport authorities were strictly implementing the “no-meat policy” at the airport to prevent the entry of the highly contagious African Swine Fever which is now affecting some areas in the Philippines.

He said all kinds of meat, poultry products, and canned goods were still prohibited, especially those coming from the countries affected by the ASF.

Quilan reiterated his appeal to air travelers to refrain from bringing fresh or canned meat, saying those will be confiscated.

Customs airport district collector Carmelita Talusan earlier made similar reminders to the public. 

She said the government had banned the importation of pork and pork-based items from Russia, Romania, South Africa, Ukraine, Zambia, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Mongolia, and Cambodia.

READ: Consumers, pork traders uneasy amid ASF scare

Talusan said airport authorities were also enforcing tighter security in anticipation of the avalanche of canned goods and meat products brought in by travelers as gifts to their families this coming holiday season. 

“We’re expecting the influx of canned goods and meat products this Christmas season, but we will confiscate items from the countries affected by the ASF and from other countries with no permits,” Talusan said.

Aside from chocolates, pork products such as hot dogs, sausages, ham and luncheon meat are among the favorite gifts of returning travelers to their families and friends during the holidays and other celebrations. 

“This is not to spoil the intention of pasalubong and the spirit of Christmas, but this is our way of protecting the swine industry and the country from further outbreak,” Talusan said.

Latest reports showed that nearly 80 percent of the world’s pig population were at risk of contracting ASF as the virus continues to spread. 

ASF is not a threat to human health but it is a highly contagious disease to domestic and wild pigs. 

READ: Piñol raps Dar over African Swine Fever ‘blame game’

READ: More dead pigs dumped in Marikina

Topics: Department of Agriculture , African swine fever , Salvador Panelo , Reynaldo Quilang
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