DA-6 appeals for help to keep region ASF-free

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Western Visayas appealed to residents to help the region’s multibillion peso swine industry free from the highly-contagious African Swine Fever (ASF).

DA-6 Regional Director Remelyn Recoter called on Ilonggo consumers and even travelers to avoid bringing in the region pork and pork by-products from Luzon.

Ang panawagan ko sa aton pumuluyo especially sa mga residents, bisita kag kilala nga kon pwede ginahingyo indi sila magdala baboy and pork-products from Luzon kay as of today and within the years to come kada isa magcontribute indi magdala pork or processed food para mamaintain ang rehiyon ASF-free,” Recoter said in an interview on Tuesday.

The DA central office recently confirmed ASF outbreaks in the provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon City, Pangasinan, and Pampanga.

Regional Veterinary Quarantine Officer, Dr. John Rhoel Hilario confirmed in previous interviews that Region 6 is still ASF-free.

But Recoter reiterated that Western Visayas is still a “high-risk” region due to its multiple entry points, particularly the sea ports and airports.

“Western Visayas is a high-risk region because we have 24/7 operations of roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) vessels passing through Caticlan, Aklan. Affected man ang flights because may ara ta international flights to Kalibo International Airport (KIA) in Kalibo, Aklan and Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan, Iloilo,” she said.

A total ban on swine and processed pork products from Luzon is in effect in Iloilo province, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, Guimaras, Antique, and Capiz through various executive orders (EO).

Executive Order No. 99-A-2019 issued by Mayor Jerry Treñas on Oct. 9, 2019, “totally bans live pigs, hog carcasses, pork and pork products and by-products originating from, and/or processed from Luzon for a period of 90 days and a total ban of the same from countries identified positive for ASF.”

Meanwhile, the provincial government of Negros Occidental is mulling to impose a total ban on such products.

Aside from local government units (LGUs) strictly monitoring their ports of entries, Recoter emphasized that barangay officials should also be on full alert on the possible entry of baggage or cargos on their area of jurisdiction.

Ang mga local barangays naton makilala man na nila kon may baggages basi pwede i-alert man sila

Sagana daan kita sa okasyon, teh kon kaisa may batasan kita magdala mga pasalubong so kon makalusot kabalo man kita sang epekto sang ASF,” Recoter stressed.

In Aklan, Recoter said they established three checkpoints in Nabas-Pandan (Antique); Buruanga-Libertad and Altavas-Sapian(Capiz) areas to monitor the entry of swine and pork products.

Meanwhile, 40 personnel were tapped by the Iloilo City government for the Task Force ASF which will also monitor pork products in the metro.

Recoter emphasized the greater role of residents in preventing the entry of ASF in the region since a large part of the hog population is from backyard farms.

“This is a billion pesos industry. Here in the region, 80 percent of the swine industry are backyard raisers,” she stressed.

She also appealed to the media to be sensitive on reporting issues concerning ASF following reports from a national media outlet on Monday confirming that the 11 packs of frozen siomai confiscated by Task Force ASF in Iloilo Terminal Market tested positive for ASF.

The processed food was produced from the ASF hit Antipolo City.

Recoter said samples were sent to Manila for laboratory testing and they have yet to receive the results.

“DA Calabarzon contacted us after the reports came in and its clear nga wala pa gid ya confirmation if positive ato sa ASF. That is why the media should be really careful when reporting the issue kay sila man to nalugi naman ang mga affected areas,” she stressed.

Based on data from the Regional Veterinary Quarantine Office, the hog industry in the region is valued at P7.69 billion with a total hog population of 1,250,681 heads as of January 1, 2019.

Out of this number, 1,109, 815 heads (89%) are backyard hog population while 140, 866 heads are in the commercial sector.

Overall, the swine industry in the region is valued at P7.69 billion.