THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said that it is set to deploy 15 dogs trained to detect meat in all international airports this month to prevent the entry of products possibly contaminated with African Swine Fever (ASF).

“15 trained dogs will be stationed in major airports — NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) 1, 2, 3, Clark (International Airport), Cebu (Mactan-Cebu International Airport),” Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol told reporters.

A further 40 are being trained, he said. The dogs are provided by Great Chiens Ventures Corp. The initial 15 cost P27 million for a year, including the services of dog handlers, financed by DA’s calamity fund.

Violators of the meat quarantine protocol are liable for penalties of up to P200,000.

The prohibitions extend to bringing in plant and animal products without Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Permits.

The DA has banned pork products from ASF-affected countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, China, Hungary, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa and Zambia.

ASF is non-treatable and contagious, and can kill swine in as little as two days. The Bureau of Customs (BoC) first alerted NAIA in January over the possible entry of contaminated pork products.

According to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the Philippines’ total swine population at the start of 2019 was 12.71 million head, up 0.83% from a year earlier. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang