CEBU, Philippines — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia last night ordered a 100-day ban on the transport of live pigs, pork and pork-related products into the province unless accompanied by necessary papers as part of measures to prevent the entry of African swine fever virus.
Garcia, in a coordination meeting, ordered supermarkets and grocery stores to identify from their inventories the meat and meat products that came from 20 countries reported to have infected with the virus.
These nations are China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, North Korea, Laos, Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, Zambia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Germany and Romania.
“As I said earlier, by virtue of the executive order and by virtue of DFA advisory, we could already confiscate, but we thought it best that we first talk to our retail establishments and operators and request them to turn over peacefully any remaining pork — processed and frozen — products sourced from the 20 prohibited countries to the Provincial Veterinarian’s Office,” Garcia told reporters after the meeting.
“For any pork products – processed or frozen – entering any port of Cebu, regardless of asa gikan. So we are not just talking about these 20 countries, even other sources inside the country, (we ban them) for the next 100 days, unless these products are accompanied with proper certification from the National Meat Inspection Service and the Veterinarian Inspection Certification,” she added.
The governor, however, allayed the concerns of hog raisers who are apprehensive of the impact of the ban, saying that those who can show necessary documents for the transport of the products may still be allowed to do so.
Garcia made the pronouncement during a meeting with the ASF task force attended by representatives from the retail industry, the Bureau of Customs, the police, coast guard, Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Agriculture.
She said that once the meat products from infected countries have been identified, these need to be turned over to the provincial authorities for proper disposal in coordination with the FDA.
For their part, meat producers promised not to take advantage of the situation by increasing their prices.
“We’re asking all-out cooperation of supermarket and grocery store operators in Cebu. You voluntary take it (affected inventories) from the shelves, coming from 20 countries,” Garcia said.
According to the Philippine College of Swine Practitioners, ASF is a contagious tick borne viral disease which exclusively infects pigs and wild boars by causing high fevers and high hemorrhages.
The virus is resilient since it thrives even outside the host animal posing a 100 percent mortality rate two to 10 days upon infection.
In the neighboring province of Bohol, Governor Arthur Yap has already ordered a temporary ban on such products.
“I am ordering the temporary ban on the transportation of live pigs, pork and pork-related products into Bohol unless accompanies by Veterinary Health Certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian and the appropriate shipping permit issued by the Bureau of Animal Industry Quarantine Services,” Yap said in a press release issued last August 20.
“For pork meat and pork-related products, Bohol will also not accept these products, unless accompanied by the appropriate certificate from the National Meat Inspection Service,” the statement said.
Yap said he issued the directive because of the reported worsening situation in Luzon where the Department of Agriculture has refused to confirm or deny suspected cases of hog deaths due to ASF.
The normal mortality rate for pigs is two to three percent. However, some affected areas in Luzon had mortality rate of 20 percent, which has sounded alarm to the DA.
Task Force Formed
In a related development, the Cebu City government has formed a task force that implements appropriate measures in ensuring that African Swine Fever-infected meats will not enter the city’s markets.
Mayor Edgardo Labella assigned City Veterinary Dr. Jennifer Laurente, City Health Officer Dr. Daisy Villa, and Dr. Jeffry Ibones, head of the city’s Department of the Social Welfare and Services, to be part of the task force.
“One of the things to do is to control…to prevent these frozen meat products from entering to the market. I’m going to confer with Laurente to really regulate not totally prevent the entrance of frozen meats,” the mayor told reporters yesterday.
Labella said the city will also coordinate with hog dealers to see to it that the suspected animal disease will not affect the city’s hog industry.
In a separate interview, Laurente said she will meet all her meat inspectors today to remind them to strictly inspect the markets, especially all ports and sea ports.
“Ang atong gi-prevent ang atong mga local pork industry nato kay once makasulod na siya, patay gyud. No treatment ug no vaccination ang virus maong dilikado sa mga binuhi nga baboy,” Laurente said.
She said the office has implemented stricter rules like “no veterinary health certificate” and other measures.
“Patawag ta og meeting nila. Ipa-check ang gikan sa Luzon nga products. Atong pangitaan og papel gyud and i-check ang paper kon asa ang origin sa product sa atong ports and sea ports,” she said.
The Department of Agriculture-7 and National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) will also call for a meeting among all stakeholders like the city’s Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries and other local government units, she added.
After the meeting with DA-7, Laurente said she will also call for a meeting with all swine raisers in the city.
She said her office will conduct an information campaign with regard to ASF.
“Dili mag lawg sa atong kababoyan og mga lamaw o pasaw kay mao ang hinungdan as far as didto sa Luzon pareha anang mga leftovers from hotels or restaurants. Dili na gyud na i-feed. Educate ta nga dili pakaaon og left overs,” she said. — JMD (FREEMAN)