The illicit importation of pork-based goods into several towns in Palawan may jeopardize its multimillion-peso hog industry, after the MIMAROPA region’s first incidence of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Marinduque.
Dr. Darius Mangcucang of the Provincial Veterinary Office (ProVet) stated Tuesday that although their office has not received any reports of ASF-related mortality, the major danger to ASF entrance is the unauthorized imports of pork-based goods, especially in northern areas.
“So far, wala naman tayo napapabalita na mga namamatay na hayop na may sintomas ng ASF, wala naman—hindi pa rin (kampante), kung tutuusin ay prone tayo kasi ang problema natin (ay) napakarami ng taga-Palawan ‘yong illegal na nagpapasok ng ipinagbabawal na pork products,” he said.
“Ang ginagawa ng ibang mga negosyante ay inilalagay nila sa karton imbes na sa ice chest, dapat ‘yang mga processed food ay naka yelo ‘yan. Pero ang ginagawa ng iba ay inilalagay nila sa karton para hindi mapansin ng quarantine,” Dr. Mangcucang added.
The ProVet usually confiscates pork-based products such as siomai, hotdog, longganisa, and tocino in the towns of Coron and San Vicente. The products are from Luzon, where some are declared as red zones or ASF-affected provinces.
Dr. Mangcucang warned that ASF can survive in frozen products and canned goods, which may trigger the widespread of the virus. ProVet also discourages the practice of using food swill to feed hogs as it may contain ASF that could infect pigs once fed.
“Halimbawa diyan sa San Vicente lagi tayong nakaka-intercept ng pork products, nako-confiscate natin. Iyon ang nagiging problema natin. Doon ( sa norte) kasi meron tayong points of entry, sa Coron karga ng barko, dito naman sa San Vicente ay may airport diyan,” he said.
“Ang problema natin diyan ay napakahaba ng coast line natin kaya napakaraming possibility na ‘yong mga nag-i-illegal ay hindi natin alam kung saan nila ipapasok. Syempre gumagawa ‘yan sila ng paraan. Kaya pakiusap natin sa mga nagninegosyo, sana ay i-stop muna nila ang pagkuha ng ganiyang produkto lalo na (mula) sa red zone kasi kawawa ang livestock industry natin sa Palawan,” he added.
The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), ProVet, and Veterinary Quarantine Office confiscate the products before burning or burying them to avoid the potential spread of the virus. It is a challenge for ProVet that it has only limited manpower deployed to monitor, he added.
ProVet has sent quarantine inspectors to Buliluyan and Rio Tuba to monitor ports and passenger-cargo entrance.
The first case in Marinduque was recorded in Barangay Dampulan in the town of Torrijos as confirmed by Dr. Josue Victoria of the provincial veterinary on October 29 in a press conference aired through Marinduque News. Based on the initial investigation of the Provincial Veterinary Office of Marinduque, the first case was recorded after the illegal slaughter of hogs in the barangay.
Dr. Mangcucang said that ProVet collected blood samples of around 300 hogs mostly from southern towns in Aborlan, Narra, Brooke’s Point, Sofronio Española, Bataraza, and Quezon. Mangcucang said that ProVet struggled to get random samples from northern and island towns of the province due to restrictions of entry.
After 21 days, the result will be released after the samples were sent to the regional Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI). The result will help to detect if there is already a presence of ASF in the province.
“May mga report sa munisipyo na kinakatay sa hindi slaughterhouse pero ‘yon ay naiparating na natin sa municipal agriculturist. Mini-monitor din nila ‘yan kasi in-encourage natin na dapat kapag nagkakatay ay nasa slaughterhouse para nachi-check ng meat inspector. Iyong meat inspector kasi ay may kakayahan na i-identify kung may disease ang hayop na kinakatay,” he added.
He said that if ASF is found in a specific location, test and destroy operations would begin with a 500-meter depopulation. Another kilometer will be monitored, and if a presence is identified again, the same depopulation procedure will be carried out.
He calculated that producers in the province rear around 160,000 pigs worth huge sums. He said categorically that no goods or live pigs are being transported from Marinduque to Palawan.
Dr. Mangcucang also advises hog farmers to register with the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agricultural (RSBSA) at their Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) in order to submit their animals for indemnification via the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC).
“Kaya natin sinasabi ito, hindi natin alam, baka bigla tayo mapasok ng ASF, magkaroon tayo ng depopulation. Syempre ang gagawin ng gobyerno ay kakatayin ang mga baboy nila, ibabaon natin ‘yan katulad nang ginagawa sa ibang bansa. Ngayon meron ‘yan insurance kung naka-enroll sila sa PCIC,” he said.
“Sana huwag nila balewalain ito kasi kung hindi nila ipaparehistro ‘yan sa RSBSA at sa PCIC, wala sila makukuha kapag kinatay ang baboy nila. Hangga’t green zone pa tayo ay gawin na nila ito dahil kapag nag-red zone na tayo, nagkaroon na ng kaso, kahit sa isang bahagi lang ng munisipyo natin o barangay, hindi na sila pwede magpa-insure,” he added.
The province of Palawan remained ASF-free since the outbreak started in 2019.