The entry of pork meat products in Palawan has not been banned by animal and industry authorities despite the threat of the African swine fever (ASF) virus, the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) said.
However, PVO supervising veterinarian Dr. Benito del Rosario said they have set up veterinary and quarantine services with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) that will focus on monitoring and inspecting them to ensure that the virus that causes hemorrhagic fever in domestic pigs will not get into the province.
Del Rosario said Tuesday in the Provincial Board’s question hour that the ban is not likely to happen unless the problem becomes serious because Palawan does not have enough pork meat supply to meet the daily demands of hotels and food establishments.
“Hindi siguro natin puwedeng ipagbawal ang pagpasok ng mga [pork] meat products kasi ang mga restaurants and kainan dito ay may maintaining volume of meat na hindi kaya kung local lang ang magsu-supply. Wala ka talagang ibang choice kung 150 kilos ang kailangan araw-araw ng isang establishment,” Del Rosario said.
He said the quarantine services are positioned in major ports of entry, including those located in Coron and Cuyo.
They can also be found in airports all over the province.
Del Rosario informed the board members in the question hour that the only problem is that the province and the BAI do not have enough manpower to strengthen their monitoring in other possible entry points.
“Mayroon tayong ganyan kaya lang hindi ganoon kalakas kasi kulang talaga tayo sa tao at wala naman talagang budget. Actually, ang quarantine kasi tao lang naman talaga — hindi ganoon kalaki ang budget na kailangan hindi katulad sa iba kasi ito ay bantay lang naman talaga ng mga hayop,” Del Rosario said.
To date, he said they are not monitoring any suspected ASF case in the province, claiming that domestic pigs and pork meat products remain safe from the virus.
The Provincial Board called the PVO to the question hour after reports on the growing death rate of pigs in the country surfaced.
“Kung ang mga reported death ang pagbabasehan natin ay hindi siya African swine fever lalo na kung namatayan ka ng dalawa hindi ‘yon. Kung confirmed nga ‘yon ay talagang uubusin ang mga baboy mo. Pero kung isa o dalawa lang, hindi ‘yon ASF,” he said.
Del Rosario said when news reports about the possible ASF threat came out, they immediately alerted veterinarians and municipal agriculturists in Palawan to strictly implement their monitoring and inspection.
“May pumutok na balita nakaraan tungkol dito sa swine fever although hindi pa naman sya confirmed ay naglabas na kami ng mga letter sa mga municipal agriculturists and veterinarians na mas higpitan ang pagbabantay. As far as our monitoring is concerned, walang basehan kung sasabihin natin na mayroon na kasi magiging premature ang declaration na may African swine fever dito kung hindi pa napapatunayan,” he said.
He said all meats coming inside the province, including those in fast food chains and restaurants all have necessary documents and permits.
Del Rosario said there are two types of swine fever — the African and classical swine fever.
“Yong classical swine fever o tinatawag namin na hog cholera ay matagal ng mayroon dito sa Pilipinas, pero kami sa ProVet sinasabi namin na wala dito sa Palawan. Kapag ‘yan ay tumama sa isang lugar parang peste, mataas ang mortality nyan pero mas malala naman ang African swine fever. I can say that Palawan is free from classical and African swine fever,” Del Rosario said.
He said if a hog turns positive, all others within one kilometer radius from the infected will be killed.
Meanwhile, Board Member Albert Rama said the PVO was called to the Provincial Board to shed light on the matter since most market vendors of pork meat products and swine raisers are already being affected in Palawan.
“May epekto rin ito sa mga kababayan natin, ang per kilo ng baboy ay murang-mura na lang at tinatamaan sila,” Rama said.