“We knew the disease, but we did not identify this yet because we don’t want to create panic. The hog industry is P260 billion today. We are managing, containing and controlling it,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.
Swine disease in Rizal not ASF, says DA chief
Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - August 27, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary William Dar disclosed on Sunday that the government has already identified the disease that caused the recent deaths of pigs in Rizal province, but definitely it’s not the dreaded African Swine Fever (ASF).

Dar, however, refused to reveal the cause of pig deaths because they do not want to create panic among the people.

“We knew the disease, but we did not identify this yet because we don’t want to create panic. The hog industry is P260 billion today. We are managing, containing and controlling it,” Dar said.

He said the government needs the support of everybody to believe in the Duterte administration and officials are doing everything to contain the hog disease.

Dar appealed to concerned local government units (LGUs) to provide additional funds to the cash assistance being provided by the Department of Agriculture (DA) to affected hog raisers.

The DA is giving cash assistance to the raisers whose pigs had to be culled.

Further, DA warned hog raisers on the improper way of culling the pigs.

There were reported incidents in Antipolo, Rizal where the pigs were just buried near the farms.

“That is not allowed. We have allocated burial grounds. If it is just in the backyards, the possible disease might just spread. That is not the proper process,” Dar said.

“That is why we are extra careful on saying what disease. We have to be informed in many ways as to the results once we let the public know,” he added.

The DA is still mum on the statistics of mortality in Rodriguez, Rizal where about 600 backyard pigs died while roughly 1,800 to 2,000 pigs have been affected in the 10-kilometer radius from ground zero, following protocol of the agency.

ASF is a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease of pigs, warthogs, European wild boar and American wild pigs. Mortality rates are as high as 100 percent.

At least 1,000 pigs were confiscated by the Veterinary Office of Antipolo City and were buried alive, drawing flak from animal welfare activists.

The owner of the piggery in Barangay Cupang, Antipolo, admitted that some of their pigs died several days ago but those confiscated by the veterinary office were healthy and ready to be disposed in the market.

Witnessed claimed that the pigs were still alive when they were thrown into a big pit and covered with soil through the use of a backhoe.

Jason Baker, senior vice president of international campaigns of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), threatened to file charges against the Antipolo City government for the mass culling of pigs.

“PETA wants a cruelty-to-animals charge filed against this atrocity,” he said, noting that the veterinary office broke domestic law and international regulations.

Baker described the practice as inhumane and barbaric.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture and food, urged consumers not to panic despite the increased deaths of pigs in Rizal province for a still unidentified animal disease.

Villar said the pig deaths in Rizal were not yet proven to have been caused by ASF.

“We should all just relax. Let us not panic like what we did before,” Villar told reporters on the sidelines of the 55th International Coconut Community Session and Ministerial Meeting yesterday. – With Louise Maureen Simeon, Non Alquitran

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