LOCAL GOVERNMENTS and the regional offices of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the Visayas have been tightening measures on the entry of pork and processed pork products amid the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in several Luzon areas.
Last Oct. 10, Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas signed an order imposing a 90-day temporary ban on the entry of live pigs, hog carcasses, pork, pork products, and by-products from Luzon.
Mr. Treñas said with Iloilo City serving as a main entry and exit point of inter-regional conveyance through the Iloilo International Airport and the Iloilo International Port, there is an urgent need to adopt preventive measures in order to protect the hog industry of the entire Western Visayas Region.
“There is a possibility that ASF may reach the city and cause high mortality rate and affect the food security in the city,” Mr. Treñas said in his order.
Joenic F. Natividad of the DA-Western Visayas’ Regulatory Division said the region’s swine industry is valued at about P7 billion.
“Our swine industry costs at P7 billion and that only comprise the live animals. Industries such as feeds, processing, labor, and other attached businesses are not yet included,” Mr. Natividad said.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show Western Visayas accounted for the third highest inventory of swine in the country with 1.26 million heads as of April 1, 2019.
Central Luzon has the highest inventory with 2.10 million heads, followed by CALABARZON (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) with 1.57 million heads.
The DA has confirmed ASF outbreaks in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga in Central Luzon, Rizal, Pangasinan in the Ilocos Region, and Quezon City in the National Capital Region.
Mr. Natividad also explained that Western Visayas is considered the “bottle neck” area from Luzon to Mindanao for meat products.
“Meat products are usually transferred in Aklan, Iloilo, and Negros. Geographically, we are at the center. Any small amount of infected mean can easily penetrate the region that is why we are really vulnerable,” he said.
Aklan, Negros Occidental, and Bacolod City have imposed a total ban on swine, pork, pork products and by-products from Luzon.
Mr. Natividad also said there is a need for local governments and communities to keep watch of coastal areas for possible pork “transported secretly.”
In Tacloban City, the regional center of Easter Visayas, the City Veterinarian’s Office (CVO) seized on Friday around P1.6 million worth of assorted frozen pork products from Bulacan.
The delivery van of Marby Food Ventures, which was transporting 700 crates of frozen meat products, was intercepted at the Veterinary Quarantine Checkpoint in San Juanico Bridge.
City Veterinarian Eunice J. Alcantara, in a statement from the city government, said the meat products were confiscated due to incomplete documents required for meat products to enter the city.
“The driver only showed us the delivery receipt of the products coming from Bulacan, which is considered as the ‘ground zero’ for ASF, that is why we confiscated the shipment,” she said.
The CVO said the confiscated products will be buried at the city’s sanitary landfill.
Delivery receipts showed the products were bound for shops in the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc as well as the Mindanao cities Digos City, Iligan City, San Francisco, Koronadal, Butuan, and Surigao.
Last September 27, Tacloban Mayor Alfred S. Romualdez issued an order banning the entry of swine and pork products from Luzon and other identified ASF-affected areas.
In Central Visayas, the governors of neighboring provinces Bohol and Cebu issued directives as early as the third week of August to set up teams to monitor the entry of pork meat and processed pork products.
At that time, the DA was still determining the cause of unusual swine mortality in backyard farms in Luzon.
Bohol Gov. Arthur C. Yap, a former DA chief, said the province’s P6-billion hog industry involves “more than 30,000 households in 21 municipalities.
He communicated with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn F. Garcia to coordinate ASF-watch efforts. — with a report from Emme Rose S. Santiagudo in Iloilo