Editorial: ASF steps in Mindanao

THANKS to the country being an archipelagic state, it takes a while before a disease could ravage the agricultural sector. It also allows time for the different local government units (LGUs) to put up necessary measures to prevent the entry of the disease or what is causing it.

When the African Swine Fever (ASF) broke out in Luzon last year, LGUs and the Department of Agriculture (DA) immediately implemented measures to prevent it from entering other areas in the country.

According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), ASF “is a highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, which is responsible for serious economic and production losses.”

“It is caused by a large DNA virus of the Asfarviridae family, which also infects ticks of the genus Ornithodoros,” it added. However, ASF is not a risk to human health.

At present, OIE said there is no approved vaccine against ASF.

In Davao City, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio issued an executive order last year temporary banning all live pigs and pork products from Luzon and other areas to prevent the entry of the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus in the city. Other neighboring LGUs have also implemented similar measures.

The DA also ordered a temporary ban on the importation of pork from ASF-affected countries. Sadly, ASF still managed to enter the Philippines affected the hog industry in Luzon.

Last week, it was reported that 1,000 dead pigs in Don Marcelino, Davao Occidental have been tested positive for ASF. This lead to DA and LGUs in the region to intensify their measures to prevent the spread of the disease.

Earlier, Hog Farmers Association of Davao Inc. president Eduardo So estimates that P80 billion will be lost in the hog industry if ASF enters the island of Mindanao.

“We need to survive (this outbreak). We are talking of an industry wherein P80 billion will be lost from Mindanao, P20 billion in Davao Region. Dako siya nga pahak sa atong industry (It will be a big loss for our industry),” So said during the 1st Mindanao Hog Raisers’ Forum in September last year.

Yesterday, it was reported that 26 pigs were found dead in Calinan, Davao City. Three samples out of the six pigs that were taken samples from were found positive for ASF.

The entry of ASF in Mindanao is worrisome. Considering that it is the food basket of the country, ASF could be a big blow to the food security of the Filipinos.

There is a need for the government to investigate how it entered Mindanao despite efforts to prevent its entry. Has there been lapses in the entry points? Are we truly equipped to prevent its spread and entry to the island? Is there someone who blatantly disregarded the preventive measures and smuggled contaminated pork to the island?

Whatever the cause, the government must impose penalties to those who allowed its entry to the island.

The hog industry players must also play a regulatory role among each other. They are the ones affected by this too. Therefore, they should also play an important role in preventing its entry.

As the government attempts to put out the fires that were ignited in January, it has now to deal with another that has long been ignited but continued to spread throughout the country.


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