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African swine fever cases hit Quezon town, put animal checkpoints

By Gemi Formaran
February 29, 2020

Authorities set up an animal checkpoint in Brgy. Pakiing in Mulnay, Quezon.


MULANAY, Quezon - African Swine Fever (ASF) cases have been recorded and continues to rise in this coastal town affecting piggery owners and backyard hog raisers. However, town officials including those in the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist refused to be interviewed to give an update on the number of pigs which have died over the reported ASF outbreak.

Hundreds of pigs have reportedly been forcibly bought and ordered killed by the Department of Agriculture to prevent the spread of the virus.

Angel Malabana piggery owner in Brgy. Pakiing said some of the pigs in his piggery started to die since January.

After it was confirmed that ASF was the csuse of death, Malabana said the Agriculture authorities ordered the remaning pigs killed and assured him of payment after two months. Each pig is valued at P5,000 regardless of the size.

Malabana said the importation of pigs from other provinces by some hog buyers triggered the proliferation of the virus in the town, "Kaya nga malaking halaga po ang nawala sa amin at may malaki pa kaming utang sa feeds".

Meanwhile, meat vendor Ed Reynoso, said other meat sellers are adversely affected by the ASF, prompting piggery owners to divert their business to poultry or other livestock farming. It was learned that entry and exit of pigs has been strictly prohibited by the authorities.

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an executive order forming a national task force to prevent the entry, containment and control of animal-borne diseases such as African swine fever (ASF) following the sharp increase in the number of cases nationwide.

On 21 February, Duterte signed Executive Order No. 105 creating a national task force "to track and enforce efficient and organized policies and strategies for handling, preventing and controlling the spread of such diseases."

The EO reports that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has reported that "the ASF virus has infected backyard and commercial farms in several areas of Luzon, and more than 67,000 hogs have been culled to control the spread of that disease."

“The current ASF outbreak, which poses catastrophic effects on the Philippines' swine industry, the production supply chain and the economy, as a whole requires drastic disease control and preventive measures, including mass culling of the affected hog population” the EO said.

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Agriculture Secretary William Dar will lead the task force and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III will serve as vice-chair.

The Task Force shall be composed of Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Transport Secretary Art Tugade, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Isidro Samson Lapeña.

The task force will develop effective policies, legislation and initiatives to address issues related to animal-borne diseases, including those related to the ASF virus; and establish a national risk reduction plan and a comprehensive system for the management, containment, control and eradication of animal-borne diseases, including, but not limited to, movement control / quarantine, biosafety, surveillance, proper waste disposal, and other control measures.

It will also track and control the implementation of the policies, regulations, initiatives and programs to be established, as well as interventions related to the improvement of customs and quarantine measures, to ensure the integrity of all international ports of entry and market inspection for imported goods containing products that may be infected with animal diseases; ; and formulate and issue zoning and movement plans for the prevention and control of animal-borne diseases, monitor its implementation, and ensure compliance.

It is also charged with developing and implementing a national public awareness campaign campaign on animal-borne diseases which may pose a threat to the country; develop programs to aid those affected by animal-borne diseases, such as the grant of financial assistance, livelihood alternatives, and necessary skills training; enhance contingency and action plans for emergency disease control; and prepare and submit timely reports on the status or animal-borne diseases, including the ASF virus.

All departments, divisions, offices, organizations or government institutions, including government-owned or controlled corporations, including state universities and colleges, are directed by this, and local government entities are required to provide the task force with the appropriate assistance.

On the other hand, it allows the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to engage in and support the implementation of the programs and initiatives to be developed.

Support for the implementation of the task force will be received from the member agencies ' available funds, and other relevant funding sources may be identified by the budget department where necessary.

In a chance interview with reporters in Malacañang, Duterte said hogs that are ASF-free should be properly labeled to avoid more contamination and accelerate the country's flow of pork and produce.

Livestock branding, an important part of animal disease control, refers to broad stock hot branding with a branding iron or other strategies like freeze branding, inner lip or ear tattoos, earmarking, ear tagging, and radiofrequency identification, tagging with a microchip implant among others.

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