THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) has confiscated a total of 443 kilograms of meat products at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport when the African Swine Fever (ASF) ban was imposed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) since September 2018.
BOC district collector lawyer Erastus Sandino Austria said the confiscated products came from passengers who were from ASF-affected countries.
The confiscated products, however, were already turned over to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) for "condemnation" or proper disposal, he said.
Former Agriculture secretary now Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) chairman Emmanuel Piñol has banned imports of domestic and wild pig products, including semen, from China, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine, the only countries that were affected by ASF last year.
However, a year after, the countries that included in the ban have already expanded to include Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, North Korea, Laos, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, Zambia, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Belgium.
Recently, BAI confirmed that the ASF has reached an outbreak level in the Luzon area, which was contradicted by DA countering that everything is still under control.
Austria said that while ASF has not yet reached Davao Region, as mentioned previously by DA, strict measures are being implemented in the ports, both by land and sea, in coordination with other concerned agencies to ensure that no meat products and other pig by-products coming from ASF-affected areas will enter the city premises.
"Di nato gina-clear ang any agri products, not only limited to meat, without ang presence sa atong mga partners sa BAI. Before siya i-clear, ato sa kini i-examine sa atong Customs examiners (We will not clear these agriculture products, not only limited to meat, without the presence of our partners from BAI. They need to be examined by our Customs examiners before we will clear them)," Austria said.
The official, however, admitted that domestic shipping is out of BOC's jurisdiction, which he said is another mode of product shipping that needs to be further monitored.
Meanwhile, he said the agency has not recorded any confiscation of meat products in the sea ports in the region.
"Taas ang compliance sa atong stakeholders. We hope to get continued cooperation from them para dili na nato i-attempt ang pag-import from banned countries (We have a high compliance from our stakeholders. We hope to get continued cooperation from them so that they won't be apprehended from attempting to import products from banned countries)," Austria said.
Recently, the Davao City Government formed an ASF Task Force that will monitor and prevent the entry of the virus in the city, which would affect the hog industry in the region which is pegged to lose around P20 billion once the ASF hits the city.
Meanwhile, the 19th City Council filed a resolution urging the mayor to issue an executive order for the temporary banning of all meat and pig by-products from Luzon.