THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has expanded its ban on pork imports to hog feed containing pork products from countries infected by African Swine Fever (ASF), as the government stepped up measures to cordon off the country’s swine industry from the disease.
In Memorandum Order No. 06, series of 2019, Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that he is banning imports of processed porcine or pork-based meal for use in animal feeds, as well as the immediate suspension on the issue of sanitary/phytosanitary import clearances (SPS-IC) for these commodities. The order also calls for the seizure of all such shipments by all DA Veterinary Quarantine Officers or Inspectors at all ports.
The DA said there is evidence that contaminated feed can possibly transmit the ASF virus to pigs consuming the feed.
“The order shall take effect immediately and shall remain enforced until revoked in writing,” it said.
Countries barred from exporting pork and pork products to the Philippines are: Vietnam, Japan, China, Hungary, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa and Zambia.
On Sunday, Mr. Piñol said that he has met with hog raisers to discuss more stringent measures to prevent the entry of ASF.
“The DA-BAI (Bureau of Animal Industry) has issued an invitation to companies offering services of sniffer dogs to immediately coordinate with the Office of the Secretary for an emergency engagement of their services,” Mr. Piñol said.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said he wants to expand the ban on the entry of pork products to countries neighboring those with confirmed ASF cases.
Mr. Zubiri made the statement after a hearing on Wednesday of the Senate committee on agriculture into the risks and vulnerability of the Philippines to ASF. Mr. Zubiri was designated by the committee chair Senator Cynthia A. Villar to preside over the hearing.
“For example, in Europe, we already have a ban on Belgium. But a lot of our imports come from Germany and Spain… That’s near Belgium. How will we monitor if (pork) products (with ASF) were able to enter these countries?” he told reporters.
During the hearing, Agriculture Undersecretary for policy and planning Segredo R. Serrano said, “We can only ban products from countries that have ASF. In fact, Secretary Piñol has asked me if he can ban (all pork imports) altogether. I said, ‘If you have prima facie evidence and cite precautionary grounds. But you cannot maintain that ban for a long time.’”
He added: “If you ban countries that have clean ASF records, like the United States, Canada, the whole of North and South America… we will have problems because we have no legal reason… if they don’t comply with our requirements and standards (or) cannot pass our inspections, of course we have a reason to ban them in a country-to-country basis.”
Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) chairperson Rufina Salas called for a temporary total ban on imports of pork and pork products even from countries that are not affected by ASF.
ASF is non-treatable and contagious with a mortality rate of 100%, killing swine in as little as two days. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio