House asked to probe swine fever outbreak
Through House Resolution No. 383, Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Carlos Zarate, Fernando Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat asked the House committee on agriculture and food to look into the spread of ASF.
House asked to probe swine fever outbreak
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - September 28, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Militant lawmakers yesterday pushed for a legislative inquiry in the House of Representatives on the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) that threatens the country’s hog industry.

Through House Resolution No. 383, Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Carlos Zarate, Fernando Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat asked the House committee on agriculture and food to look into the spread of ASF.

“It is now apparent that the deadly disease poses a massive threat to the whole swine industry, including the pockets of everyone involved in the business of producing and selling pork,” the lawmakers stressed.

They said the country’s swine industry is estimated to have about 850,000 active sows in commercial-sized piggery farms and 600,000 active sows in backyard piggery farms scattered all over the country, producing a combined 3.5 million finishing pigs for meat consumption annually.

“The infected areas are a few towns in Bulacan and some in Rizal but given the proximity of pig growers within an area, including the backyard raisers, the infection will most likely spread like wildfire. Most of the backyard growers with 30 or less heads to feed rely on pig swills and whose growing practices devoid of conformity with generally accepted operations may contribute to the spread of the deadly disease,” the lawmakers lamented.

But even before their proposed investigation in aid of legislation could start, the militant lawmakers already pinned the blame on the Department of Agriculture (DA), particularly former secretary Emmanuel Piñol, for the entry of ASF in the Philippines.

The House panel is set to tackle the resolution in a hearing set on Oct. 2.

Bulacan livestock affected

Barangay officials of Bulihan in Plaridel town have confirmed that ASF has already affected the livestock industry in their village.

The revelation came as the barangay officials and five Bulacan reporters were summoned to the office of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFMS) after one of the village officials was accused of threats and intimidation during a news coverage on the foul smell emanating from burial pits for swine affected with ASF.

At the office of PTFMS, the barangay officials, led by chair Esperanza Garcia, admitted that cases of ASF have affected their village and that more than 1,000 affected livestock were buried in three pits.

This is the first time that an ASF incident occurred outside Barangay Pritil in Guiguinto town, they confirmed to Bulacan media. Bulacan officials have been silent on the issue of ASF in the province, neglecting to issue advisories on the status of the swine disease.

Noel Reyes, DA spokesman, when asked on the ASF situation in Bulacan replied in a text message that reporters better inquire with the provincial swine task force.

The apparent news blackout on ASF cases in Bulacan nearly reached a bloody confrontation between Bulihan barangay kagawad Arnel Gonzalez’s group and four Bulacan mediamen.

The mediamen refused to accept the apologies of the barangay officials of Bulihan after their experience in their news coverage in Plaridel town, which they described as harrowing and life-threatening.

Pigs, frozen ham seized

Provincial officers in Lingayen, Pangasinan have seized and killed 60 pigs that were illegally brought into the province amid a strict local government prohibition meant to address risks of ASF.

The pigs, which were found inside a private compound, were beheaded and buried in Mapandan town. – With Ramon Lazaro, Raymund Catindig, Cesar Ramirez

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