Duterte forms task force vs ASF
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - February 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte has ordered the creation of a task force that would handle the prevention and containment of animal-borne diseases, including African swine fever (ASF).

The creation of the task force is contained in Executive Order (EO) 105 signed by the President on Feb. 21. 

Although there has been no report of human transmission of ASF, Duterte described it as a severe, highly contagious and fatal disease affecting domestic and wild hogs. 

The National Task Force on Animal-Borne Diseases will ensure effective coordination and implementation of efforts designed to prevent the spread of ASF and other diseases. 

The task force will be led by the secretaries of agriculture and health, as chairman and vice chairman, respectively.

The other Cabinet secretaries will serve as members along with the chief of the Bureau of Customs and the director general of TESDA or Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

The task force will be assisted by a secretariat composed of employees and officers of its member-agencies as well as of the Bureau of Animal Industry, National Meat Inspection Service and Food and Drug Administration. 

It will draft a risk reduction program and a comprehensive framework on the management, control and eradication of animal-borne  diseases.

The task force will submit reports to the President.

On Tuesday, Duterte met with Agriculture Secretary William Dar and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año to discuss measures to contain the spread of ASF. 

During the meeting, the President ordered the agriculture department to come up with a protocol on the movement of pork and pork products. 

ASF affects more  Pangasinan areas

Meanwhile, 14 towns and three cities in Pangasinan have been affected by ASF, officials said yesterday.

Most of the affected areas are located in the central part of the province, according to acting provincial veterinarian Jovito Tabarejos.

He said there has been no recurrence of ASF in Mapandan and Bayambang, the first towns to report the breakout last year.

Tabarejos said a total of  5,581 hogs have been culled and the number is expected to increase as depopulation is ongoing in some areas.

As this developed, the Samahan ng Industriyang Agrikultura (SINAG) is urging local government units affected by ASF to declare a state of calamity.

“The declaration will ease the financial losses incurred by affected hog raisers, especially those engaged in backyard piggery,” SINAG chairman Rosendo So said in a forum yesterday.

Of the 14 towns and three cities in Pangasinan affected by ASF, only seven areas – Bayambang, Binmaley, Calasiao, Malasiqui, Mangaldan, Mapandan and San Carlos City – have been placed under a  state of calamity.

Of these areas, Binmaley is hardest hit by the disease.

So urged hog raisers to shift  to other animals such sheeps, goats or rabbits, at least for a year to prevent the recurrence of the virus.

He said hog raisers are limiting the number of their pigs as it is risky to maintain a large population at present. – With Eva Visperas, Cesar Ramirez

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