By SHIELA MAE BUTLIG and JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
MISAMIS Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano yesterday ordered a province-wide ban on hogs and pork products from other places without meat inspection certificates.
Emano signed an executive order to prohibit the act of bringing in pork or hogs into Misamis Oriental in the wake of the African swine fever threat.
The governor’s order came days after Agriculture Secretary Willam Dar confirmed that the disease affected many hogs in Bulacan and Rizal.
The government said it was ASF that prompted the depopulation of over 7,000 hogs in Bulacan and Rizal farms last month.
The ASF is a highly contagious and usually fatal viral disease of swine that is characterized by high fever, lesions, leukopenia or the abnormal low count of white blood cells, elevated pulse and respiration rate, and death within four to seven days after the onset of fever.
Emano’s Executive Order 2019-13 temporarily bans hogs and pork whether raw, processed or cooked until the Bureau of Animal Industry gives a public assurance that there is no more threat.
But while his ban specified those from ASF-affected Rizal and Bulacan, the capitol’s veterinary office said authorities would seize hogs, raw or processed pork products without clearance papers.
The Department of Agriculture said meat inspection certificates from the National Meat Inspection Service or the local governments’ meat inspectors. A permit from the Food and Drug Administration would be required for processed pork products.
Emano directed mayors in the province to carry out information dissemination campaigns and to immediately report to veterinary and agriculture offices unusual hog morbidities and mortalities in their respective towns.
He said hog growers in the province should be reminded to avoid feeding their livestock with swill or food scraps.
The Philippine Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA) in Northern Mindanao has earlier warned that small-time hog growers that practice feeding swill are the most vulnerable to the virus due to this unsanitary method.
Dr. Katherine Mae Caterial, president of the PVMA in the region, said disinfection and biosecurity measures should be adopted to avoid ASF from spreading further.
Provincial veterinarian Benjamin Resma said the capitol has not recorded any ASF case in the province.
Resma said a “boodle fight” has been organized during the “Farmers’ Market” at the capitol grounds today to assure the public that Misamis Oriental pork is safe to eat.
Resma said a task force has been created composed of provincial and municipal veterinarians, and representatives from various agriculture offices to implement Emano’s order.
He said inspections would be made and quarantine services would be given from Lugait to Magsaysay towns.
Resma said the task force would keep an eye on all ports and other possible entry points in the province, and confiscate pork products being brought into the province.
On Monday, the agriculture department announced the result of a confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction tests done in the United Kingdom confirming that 14 of 20 hog blood samples are ASF positive.
Secretary Dar said, “To date, we believe we have successfully managed the issue, as a misstep could erode the gains and competitiveness of the country’s P260-billion swine industry that provides and sustains livelihood of millions of Filipino families, as roughly two-thirds or 65 percent of the industry is contributed by small backyard raisers.”
Dar, along with Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque, and other DA and DOH officials, hog stakeholders, and members of the private sector earlier had a boodle fight to show the public that it was safe to eat pork.
“As long as the hogs passed through the proper process of slaughtering and preparation, the public should not fear eating pork,” Dar said.
Dar said meat and meat products with NMIS seals and veterinary health certificates issued by the Bureau of Animal Industry and veterinary offices of local governments are safe for human consumption.
Before slaughtering, a hog is validated and assessed by a veterinarian, who then issues a medical certificate. Once slaughtered, the meats are stamped with a seal from the National Meat Inspection Service, assuring that it passed the food safety measures imposed by the government, Dar said.
Strict quarantine and monitoring protocols would remain in place to protect hog farms in other parts of the country, Dar said.
The DA also suspended the ground operations in Rizal province and focused on cleaning and disinfecting operations.
“We also activated and mobilized respective Quick Response Teams (QRTs) at DA Regional Field Offices to implement complementary measures,” Dar said.
“Rest assured that the DA is on top of the situation. We are prepared to respond to all scenarios. We (also) assure the public there is enough supply of pork in the market,” he added.
The DOH said locally produced pork do not impose a threat to human health, and reiterated that as long as it is prepared and cooked properly, it is safe for human consumption. (with reports from PNA)