QUARANTINE AUTHORITIES continue to implement strict screening measures at airports and seaports in the Western Visayas Region to protect the hog industry from the African Swine Fever (ASF), with the ban on pork and pork products extended to those coming from the Davao Region in addition to the entire Luzon mainland. In 2019, a total of 38,253 kilograms (kg) of pork meat and by-products were prevented from passing through the region’s ports, according to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI). John Rhoel C. Hilario, BAI regional veterinary quarantine officer, said there were also nine swine heads confiscated and 37 reshipped. “We consider the two international airports in the region, particularly the Iloilo International Airport… and Kalibo International Airport in Aklan as highly critical areas because of the international flights. The two seaports, the Caticlan Jetty Port in Aklan and the Dumangas Port in Iloilo are also critical areas,” he said. The screening involves “physical and documentary inspection of the pork products and by-products,” he explained.

Mr. Hilario appealed to other agencies and local government units (LGUs) to assist in keeping the region ASF-free by monitoring “free areas” or those where BAI could not readily cover. “We need the help of other agencies to protect free areas, we are coordinating with other agencies of airports and seaports to screen the live animals going in and going out of the region,” he said. “The LGUs should continue strengthening their local ordinances and creating checkpoints so that they can further add protection in their hog and animal industry,” he added.

Meanwhile, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio appealed to hog raisers to cooperate in the ASF containment efforts by immediately reporting sick pigs. “We will check, inspect, and conduct de-population if ASF is positive and pay for your piglets and pigs. Thereafter, you cannot grow pigs for the next three months,” she said in a press conference on Monday. She noted that aside from the compensation from the city government, the Department of Agriculture also pays out P5,000 per culled ASF-infected pig. The City Veterinarian Office (CVO) reported that as of the weekend, more than half of the over 2,000 pigs in the two infected villages have already been culled. The CVO will also be holding orientation sessions with growers on the ways forward after the depopulation of the pigs. Davao City is the second LGU in the Davao Region, and the rest of Mindanao, with confirmed ASF cases. The first outbreak was reported two weeks ago in the town of Don Marcelino in Davao Occidental province. Emme Rose S. Santiagudo and Maya M. Padillo