CENTRAL Visayas has been on heightened alert since Jan. 15, 2021, after the first case of the African swine fever (ASF) was detected in Eastern Visayas, or Region 8.
Despite the Department of Agriculture (DA) 8’s assurance that it has managed to curb the spread of the disease in three barangays in Leyte by culling more than 1,000 hogs, DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado met with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on Friday, Jan. 22, to discuss further measures to prevent ASF’s entry to the region, particularly to Cebu Province.
Diputado said Garcia was updated on the ASF situation in the towns of Abuyog, Paz and Javier in Leyte.
Garcia issued an indefinite ban on the entry of pork and other pork-related products to Cebu from areas affected by ASF since February 2020.
In December last year, she said the ban would continue in 2021.
Diputado said DA 8 authorities are optimistic they have the situation under control.
Among the measures discussed in last Friday’s meeting with Garcia were the strengthening of manpower resources and the stringent monitoring and surveillance of cargoes and passengers in Cebu’s ports.
The Capitol has come up with guidelines for trucks it accredited to transport pork products or live hogs up to Matnog port in Sorsogon Province, the drop-off point for Luzon:
1. Mandatory disinfection of outgoing and returning trucks, livestock transport carrier, reefer vans;
2. Compliance/Submission of Disinfection Clearance issued by the veterinary quarantine from the port of origin;
3. Mandatory seven days downtime period of returning trucks prior to hauling of pigs. After which, the Capitol will issue clearance;
4. Downtime period should be spent on cleaning and disinfecting trucks;
5. Submission of route plan at the border prior to shipment; and
6. Submission of regulatory documents (veterinary health certificate, shipping permit).
“We have to be stricter in our monitoring of the illegal entry of pork or any pork-related items in our region. We encourage passengers traveling through sea ports that if they intend to bring food on board, it should only be fish, beef or chicken because we do not allow pork,” Diputado told SunStar Cebu.
The meeting was also attended by representatives from the Coast Guard; National Meat Inspection Service; Cebu Port Authority; different ports in the province including Bogo City, Carmen, Tudela, San Remigio, Daanbantayan, Bantayan and San Francisco; truckers, haulers and traders’ groups; and officials from the Central Visayas Pork Producers Cooperative.
The heightened-alert status means stricter protocol to prevent the entry of any pork and pork-related items from outside the region and the stringent disinfection in slaughterhouses and in the transport process.
The DA 7 issued an advisory on Jan. 19, calling for more vigilance against ASF.
ASF is a virus that only affects pigs. Those infected only have two to 10 days to live.
Diputado said Central Visayas has sufficient pork supply for local consumption and continues to send pork to Metro Manila in a bid to lower increasing pork prices in the National Capital Region.
In an earlier report, a kilo of pork belly sells as much as P400 in major public markets in Metro Manila, much higher than the suggested retail price of P225 a kilo.
Diputado said the prices of pork products in Cebu remain stable. In a press release, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said he tasked Undersecretary William Medrano to coordinate with their counterparts in Vietnam, which has developed a vaccine against ASF, and acquire the vaccine for clinical and field tests here in the Philippines. (JOB, PR)