Despite effects on lechon businesses: Provincial government stands by stricter rules
Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Lorraine L. Ecarma (The Freeman) - September 17, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Cebu provincial government is standing by the stricter regulations it has put in place on the entry of live hogs into the province even as local lechoneros have expressed that the new rules are starting to affect their business negatively.

Provincial Veterinarian, Dr. Rose Vincoy, said the African Swine Fever is too big a threat to let the province’s guard down.

“The risk is so big nga dili pwede na moingon ta na you have to leeway this certificate ug ato ning i-give up ang mga certificate because there are a few sectors nga nireklamo (The risk is too big for us to give a leeway on the certificates because some sectors complained),” she said.

Executive Order 15, which Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued recently, requires suppliers of live hogs to present Livestock Handlers' Permit, Farm Registration, Livestock Transport/ Carrier Registration, Vehicle Registration, and Disinfection Clearance before hogs can enter the province.

Friday last week, a truckload of hogs from Negros was intercepted at the Tangil Warf in Dumanjug town as the hogs were not covered by the papers needed. The hogs were shipped back to Negros the following day.

“There’s more hog raisers than lechoneros,” Vincoy pointed out, saying that the lechon (roast pig) sector is but one of the sectors that are threatened by the possible entry of ASF.

Cebu is considered to be the lechon capital of the Philippines.

When infected by the ASF, a pig can die in two to 10 days. At present, it has no cure and cannot be prevented through a vaccine.

As a preventive measure, Garcia issued the EO 15, following confirmation that the pigs that died in some parts of Luzon were killed by the virus.

Some lechoneros told The Freeman over the weekend that they have started feeling the effect of EO 15. They have reportedly began turning orders down as they are uncertain where they can get live hogs to meet the demand for lechon.

But Vincoy pointed out further that some provinces from where Cebu gets its pork do not have veterinarians.

“Naa mi na-encounter nga mga problems on the ground tungod kay ang ubang mga probinsya walay provincial veterinarian (We have encountered problems on the ground because there are provinces that don’t have provincial veterinarians),” she said.

This, she said, raises the concern, especially on auctioned pigs.

Vincoy said hog auctions are often just a gathering of traders and buyers without a veterinarian present, thus, no one can check on the health of the pigs.

“Unsaon man pag-identify kung masakiton ba siya or dili (How can they identify if the pig is sick or not)?” she said.

She urged suppliers from outside the province to cooperate with the provincial veterinarian’s office, particularly in complying with the new documents needed for pigs to enter here.

Don’t be alarmist

In Manila, Department of Agriculture Secretary William Dar appealed to the media and the general public not to ignite fears regarding the ASF, as unverified reports can create an irreversible damage to the country’s P260-billion swine industry that provides and sustains the livelihood of millions of Filipino families.

In a statement, DAR said that the ASF episodes in several areas in Bulacan and Rizal may be considered an outbreak but not an epidemic.

For one, he said, the fever has been contained in Barangay Pritil, Guiguinto, Bulacan; and in several barangays in Rodriguez, San Mateo, and Antipolo, Rizal.

Dar said that around two-thirds or 65 percent of the industry is contributed by small backyard raisers.

Dar said that 7,416 pigs in the one-kilometer radius in ASF areas in Rizal and Bulacan have already been depopulated, following the 1-7-10 protocol of DA to manage, contain, and control the spread of the disease.

Meanwhile, continuous strict surveillance is being conducted in areas near ASF-infected barangays in Rizal and Bulacan.

Dar assured the public that the incident will not affect the supply and prices of pork in the market, stressing that the ASF is confined and specific in certain areas only and not in the entire country.

The DA, in partnership with LGUs at all levels, the private sector, PNP and the military has enhanced its monitoring activities and imposed stricter biosecurity and quarantine measures to contain the spread of ASF in other areas.

Dar also appeals to backyard swine raisers to report sick and dead pigs to their respective municipal or city veterinarians, who will in turn coordinate with the DA's Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI) to determine the cause of sickness or death.

Dar said that sickly animals deserve proper care and adequate treatment. Should they eventually die, there are strict protocols on how they should be disposed of.

Dar added that DA through the BAI and the National Meat Inspection Service in partnership with the private sector particularly with commercial hog raisers' groups, local government units, the PNP and military has taken all the necessary measures to manage, control and contain the possible spread of ASF and major swine diseases. (FREEMAN)

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