SUPERMARKETS and grocery stores turned over 95 kilos of frozen meat products and canned meat goods to the Cebu Provincial Government on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019.
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia had issued an ultimatum to establishments to turn over pork products that came from countries affected by the African Swine Fever. (ASF).
Supermarkets and grocery stores were to provide the Capitol copies of their inventory reports on which meat and meat products came from places infected by ASF not later than 5 p.m. Friday and to turn these over not later than 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24.
ASF, according to the Philippine College of Swine Practitioners, is a viral disease that infects only pigs and wild boars. It is transmitted through feeding on infected pork or carcasses, contamination of equipment, and when blood is shed. It also has a 100 percent mortality rate and can affect all pig age groups.
Provincial Veterinarian Mary Rose Vincoy, during the meeting with the Provincial Development Council on Friday, said they already coordinated with Bernard Calderon, chief of the Provincial General Services Office, on where to temporarily store the turned over products.
Public vigilance sought
Garcia also appealed to all the mayors in Cebu to help the Province monitor the entry of these products in their respective ports.
“At the port of entry, it should be the duty of every person arriving and disembarking at all ports of the province of Cebu to voluntarily dispose of any and all pork and pork-related food products from the check-in luggage, hand-carry items or those contained in their carton bags,” she said.
She also called on the Chinese storeowners to adhere to the province’s advisory as well.
“Aside from the 95 kilos, there is still more to come. Perhaps, there are other Chinese stores that have not yet conducted an inventory, some known stores. We are calling for their help. If we could provide them our advisories and all of our executive orders, by virtue of that, we could inspect peacefully,” she said.
On Friday, Garcia issued Executive Order (EO) 14 prohibiting the entry of pork, pork-related products and byproducts in Cebu Province without permits and certificates for 100 days. It also regulates the entry of live hogs through all ports in the province also for 100 days.
It augments EO 13 issued on Aug. 20, which adopts an ASF provincial preparedness and contingency plan, and creates a task force.
Garcia also said that by Tuesday, Aug. 27, all the mayors should be able to send their appointed animal quarantine inspector, who would serve as force multipliers to provincial veterinarians.
Vincoy said they will strengthen the monitoring in Northern Cebu since it’s where most of the meat supply that comes from Luzon pass.
She also called on all the provincial and city veterinary offices to strengthen the monitoring of all slaughterhouses to make sure that no incubated hogs would be slaughtered.
Countries affected by the ASF include North Korea, Laos, Germany, China, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Moldova and Belgium.
Meanwhile, the three pigs that died in Barangay Lusaran, a mountain barangay in Cebu City, did not die of ASF, according to City Agriculturist Joey Baclayon.
He knows this because there was no mass death.
However, he said the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF) is investigating why the pigs died to ensure that ASF has not reached the city.
On Aug. 19, Agriculture Secretary William ar neither confirmed nor denied reports that the ASF virus has reached the Philippines.
“Let us be preventive and we should have extra mitigation,” said Baclayon.
Mayor Edgardo Labella has directed DVMF head Jennifer Laurente to lead a task force that will implement measures to prevent the entry of ASF and asked Department of Social Welfare and Services head Jeffrey Ibones and city health chief Daisy Villa to monitor and take necessary measures on the matter.
“(They have) to see to it that this menace will not enter (Cebu City) and coordinate with meat dealers and call their attention through a meeting for all of them so we can prevent the entry (of ASF),” said Labella.
He also wants the task force to regulate the imported products entering the markets, as well as the entrance and distribution of frozen meat.
While the disease cannot affect humans, ASF can affect the local pig, adding that it can kill swine as the disease has “no treatment, no vaccination,” said Laurente.