THE Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Field Office 6, Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), and local government units (LGUs) will take additional measures to prevent the entry of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Western Visayas as new outbreaks were confirmed recently in Davao Occidental and Davao City.
During the Regional Advisory Committee for Animal Disease Control and Emergency (RACADCE) meeting held on Feb. 6 in Kalibo, Aklan, regional executive director Remelyn Recoter urged for the continued support of the local government offices through the provincial veterinarians to protect the multi-billion hog industry of Western Visayas.
“As of today, we are still ASF-free. We don’t want to compromise our about P10 billion hog industry that also includes forward and backward linkages,” said Recoter.
Aklan and Negros Occidental had already issued amended executive orders on the banning of pork and pork products from Mindanao particularly from Davao Region.
Western Visayas is more than 200 percent self-sufficient should the government opts for the total lockdown of pork and pork products from outside the region.
The DA Livestock Program will require LGU technicians to submit an updated inventory of animals per locality. “The inventory data is necessary for the indemnification of condemned animals once there is an ASF outbreak here,” Recoter stressed.
However, she underscored that the government should protect the sector as 80 percent of it are on the backyard scale.
DA, BAI and provincial veterinary offices will closely coordinate with the LGUs particularly in the 24/7 operation of animal quarantine checkpoints, and monitoring of meat dealers and retailers to ensure that pork products sold have seals of the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
DA will likewise collaborate with the LGUs in the interception of pork products at checkpoint areas and in seaports and airports of entry.
They will also request the DA Central Office to release airline and port advisories to passengers that their LGU destinations have existing bans on pork and pork products.
The BAI will also strictly regulate the issuance of shipping permits especially to companies and shippers of highly processed meat products.
On the other hand, DA Regulatory Division chief Dr. Jonic Natividad had reiterated the roles and functions of DA Regional Field Office, BAI, NMIS, Department of Health – Food and Drug Administration, and the LGUs in the prevention activities against ASF.
Likewise, the LGUs are also mandated to monitor piggeries and ban swill feeding, particularly in backyard farms.
Dir. Recoter ordered Dr. Natividad to coordinate with the responsible agencies including the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), MARINA, and the
Philippine Coast Guards on the proper disposal of swill (locally known as “damog”) from domestic and foreign vessels of ASF-affected countries.
On Thursday, the RACADCE had decided to create resolutions to revise some protocols and orders on ASF management. They will request for the amendment of Administrative Circular No. 21 that will stop the shipment of fully cooked products to protected areas that may be a possible source of ASF infection.
Moreover, they will also propose the proper sealing of pork and pork products from the ports of origin and destination to ensure that there will be no mingling of products during shipment.
DA will also confer with the authorities to include pork and pork-related products in the prohibited items to be inspected. Also, the, x-ray machines for the baggage of outgoing passengers from the Batangas Port should be fully utilized.
Moreover, the DA Regional Field Office 6 through Dar will request the PPA and CAAP to provide proper office spaces to BAI quarantine officers.
Meanwhile, the Aklan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office had already established the Incident Command System for ASF management in Aklan which can also be replicated in other provinces.
“The province of Aklan had been very busy apprehending and confiscating pork and pork products since the province caters to international flights and has 24/7 roll-on, roll-off ferry operations,” Recoter added.
Dr. Nilo Lingaya of the BAI and Aklan provincial veterinarian Dr. Mabel Sinel demonstrated their practice in the apprehension and disposal of confiscated products in Aklan provincial stock farm in Makato town.
Dr. John Roel Hilario, BAI regional veterinary quarantine officer, said that Dr. Samuel Joseph
Castro has been assigned as the BAI focal person on ASF.
He also presented updates on the Avian Influenza (AI) outbreaks in affected countries. He noted that AI has threats both to human and animal health./PN