THE Bacolod City Council approved on second reading the proposed ordinance establishing the "Bantay ASF sa Barangay" in all the barangays in the city and granting authority to the City Veterinary Office through the mayor to deputize and empower barangay biosecurity officers (BBOs).

The proposed ordinance was authored by Councilor Carlos Jose Lopez, chairperson of the City council committee on environment.

Lopez said African Swine Fever (ASF), a high impact transboundary animal disease (TAD), continues to affect the swine production sector of the Philippines with no vaccine and no known cure to date, resulting in industry estimate of 36 percent reduction of national swine inventory impacting both livelihood and agriculture economy.

He said early reporting of animal-borne disease is vital for an efficient and well-coordinated response and immediate implementation of control measures.

"Successful control effort lies with strong collaboration between the Department of Agriculture, its relevant agencies, with concerned Local Government Units (LGU), and stakeholders taking ownership of such program benefitting the farmer," he added.

Lopez noted that the Philippine College of Swine Practitioners (PCSP), a collegial body of swine veterinarians, developed the "Bantay ASF sa Barangay," a community-based approach to prevent, control, and manage ASF applying sound epidemiologic principles and available technology such as the use of ASF rapid test kits, through the cooperation of Local Government Units (LGU) and swine raisers.

Lopez said the local government officials including those in the barangays must be empowered considering their role as very critical in the successful implementation of disease control programs of the government, particularly ASF, at the grassroot level in order to timely detect, manage and prevent further spread of any disease.

Section 2 of the proposed ordinance stated that this Ordinance shall be in effect within the territorial jurisdiction of Bacolod City and shall be observed by the City Government including all its branches, instrumentalities, and subdivisions.

This ordinance applies to the intensified disease response of the City Government of Bacolod against ASF, where the City Agriculture, City Veterinary Office, academe, private stakeholders, and swine industry experts provide technical and support services to empower LGUs in Bacolod in the implementation of the "Bantay ASF sa Barangay" interventions at the farm and community levels, it further stated.