THE Provincial African Swine Fever (ASF) Task Force of Negros Occidental has seized over 239 kilograms of assorted pork products at various ports in the province from January 1 to 28, 2021.

A report submitted by Provincial Veterinarian Renante Decena, also the task force's co-chair, to Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson on Monday, February 1, showed that these items amounting to about P52,000 were apprehended through checkpoints.

These pork products were mostly hand carried by returning locally stranded individuals (LSIs) and authorized persons outside residence (Apors) from Luzon.

For last week alone, about P3,296 worth of pork and pork products were seized at the Bacolod-Silay Airport in Silay City and a port in San Carlos City.

These prohibited goods were apprehended from hand-carried and checked-in baggage, as well as cargo trucks and containers arriving at these ports.

Dr. Ryan Janoya, chairperson of the task force's quarantine team, told SunStar Bacolod that these products are aside from those originated from Ormoc City in Leyte.

Janoya said the team seized 172 packs of pork lumpia manufactured in Ormoc City during the conduct of animal quarantine checkpoint in Kabankalan City on January 26.

"These were intercepted from a frozen meat product distributor with a warehouse in Dumaguete City," he said, adding that the items were shipped back to its point of origin.

Those pork products seized at the airport and seaports, meanwhile, were disposed either by incineration or burying.

The report further showed that from January 22 to 28, the quarantine team has inspected a total of 3,006 incoming vehicles and refrigerated container vans at different ports of entries in the province.

All products allowed to enter the province were properly inspected and found to have complete documents, it added.

The Provincial Government of Negros Occidental, through the task force, has been intensifying its measures against possible entry of the dreaded disease affecting swine to the province.

The task force earlier established round-the-clock checkpoint areas and disinfection activities to eliminate possible sources of the virus.

Also, this is to ensure that all pork products allowed to enter the province are properly inspected and have complete regulatory documents.

Decena earlier said the task force is relentless on enforcing Provincial ASF Prevention Ordinance 2019-024 through one, continuous enforcement and conduct of checkpoints and inspections among incoming vehicles and refrigerated container vans at different ports of entry in the province.

The strict monitoring of supermarkets, grocery stores, online sellers of frozen meat products had also paved the way for the province to remain free from ASF, he added.

On January 15, the Department of Agriculture confirmed an ASF case in Abuyog town in Leyte, the first in the Visayas.

This prompted Negros Occidental to impose a ban of live pigs and pork coming from Eastern Samar in order to further protect the P6-billion swine industry of the province.

Lacson, in a memorandum order, said the ban also covers boar semen, pork products and other pork-related food items from the nearby Eastern Visayas, including the provinces of Leyte, Biliran, Samar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar.

Pursuant to the Provincial ASF Prevention Ordinance, other areas may be covered once affected by ASF.

It can be recalled that since 2019, the province has been banning the entry of pork and pork products coming from areas in Luzon and Mindanao with confirmed ASF cases.

"The incidence of ASF in Eastern Samar poses a threat to the province being one of the major producers and gateway of live pigs being supplied to Luzon, Central and Eastern Visayas," the task force chair said.

In 2020, about 5,213.28 kilograms of assorted pork products were incinerated.

Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) records showed that from January to December last year, a total of 32.65 tons of assorted pork products have been seized in seaports, airport and checkpoint areas.

The estimated market value for these items reached P5.56 million, it added.