THE Negros Occidental government is looking into imposing a permanent ban on entry of pork and pork products from African Swine Fever (ASF)-affected areas as a means to protect the province from the continuous spread of the virus.

“We have an existing order temporarily banning (entry) until Dec. 18. We have to have a permanent law or ordinance preventing the entry because we understand that ASF cannot be eradicated in 10 to 20 years in Luzon. We have to have a law penalizing those people who bring in contaminated meat,” Negros Occidental Chief Veterinarian Renante J. Decena said in a chance interview.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the province ranked ninth in swine production in 2017 with 55,979 metric tons (MT), liveweight, which accounted for 2.47% of total production that year of 2.265 million MT, liveweight.

It had the fourth-largest herd in 2017 with 512,206 head, or 4.12% of the total population at 12.427 million head.

“We have surplus in terms of production. We also have a processing plant in Negros Occidental that could produce 1,000 hams per day. We can manage with our own food security program in terms of livestock,” he said.

He said in a text message that the provincial board finalized the ordinance in a Thursday meeting, which is set to be implemented within the month. All pork and pork products from affected areas in Luzon, as well as from other countries, are prohibited to enter the province. The use of food waste is also banned for hog raisers.

“We will impose a penalty or fine of not less than P1,000 but not exceeding P5,000 or imprisonment of not less than six months but not exceeding one year or both at the discretion of the court,” Mr. Decena added.

The province is one of the local government units bannning the entry of pork products from Luzon after the ASF outbreak, with bans currently in force in 65 of 80 provinces.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has encouraged LGUs who have imposed the ban to lift such orders to facilitate the movement of the meat processing industry’s products. The industry has estimated that it will lose more than P40 billion in sales if LGU bans remain in place.

Cavite, which was once part of the list, has announced that it was lifting its ban, through Executive Order No. 34 dated Oct. 24. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang