Provincial Board okays automatic pork ban

QUARANTINE personnel dispose the canned goods seized at the Iloilo international airport in Cabatuan, Iloilo on June 4, 2019. The items came from countries with cases of African Swine Flu (ASF) virus infection such as Hong Kong and Singapore. (Photo courtesy of Regional Veterinary Quarantice Office-6)

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The provincial board of Negros Occidental has approved a measure that will impose an automatic ban on pork products imported from areas where swine diseases occur, like the African swine fever (ASF).

Board Member Andrew Montelibano, committee on agriculture chair, said the proposal will help protect the province’s P6-billion swine industry.

Montelibano pointed out they are also protecting public health by ensuring that pork products are free from any disease.

Once the ordinance is signed, Montelibano said the current 90-day suspension on the importation of hogs and pork products in the province will be extended indefinitely until the national government declares that ASF outbreak in the country is over.

“It’s going to be difficult if the disease enters Negros, that’s why our precautionary measures are very important,” Montelibano said.

With concerns over the smuggling of imported pork products in the province, Montelibano said the provincial task force on African swine fever should closely guard the province’s entry points.

Earlier, Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson revealed plans to extend the ongoing 90-day pork ban due to the ongoing infection in Luzon.

“As you can see, it is already spreading in Luzon and it’s no longer limited to the three [initial] provinces identified before,” Lacson said.

The governor also urged Negros Occidental consumers to patronize local pork products. With the holiday season just weeks away, he advised the public to try locally-produced ham.

“Support our local industry and buy local pork products,” Lacson urged.

The governor also lauded efforts of the provincial task force on African swine fever to protect the local hog industry and urged them not to let their guard down.

“I commend them but we need to continue being vigilant,” he stressed. “One mistake can cause [problems] for the whole Negros Occidental.”