The Provincial Veterinary Office (ProVet) is requesting assistance and vigilance from local authorities and the general public in order to prevent the entry of smuggled pork and banned pork-based goods in Palawan, which may carry the extremely infectious haemorrhagic viral disease African swine fever (ASF).
Dr. Darius Mangcucang of ProVet said it is necessary to intensify surveillance and monitoring efforts to ensure the safety of the province’s hog sector, especially since unscrupulous individuals continue to smuggle them in via Coron, El Nido, and San Vicente.
“Halimbawa ngayon sa Coron, marami nang nako-confiscate ang ating quarantine personnel doon. Hindi ba usually kapag nagbi-business ka ng ganyan — hotdog, karne — dapat nilalagay mo sa ice box, dapat malamig? Pero ang ginagawa nila ay nilalagay nila sa karton. So, anong ibig sabihin, noon? Palusot. Iyon ang nagiging problema natin,” Dr. Mangcucang said.
“Kumbaga, walang takot ang mga tao. Hindi nila alam kung ano magiging effect nito basta sila, mayroong negosyo. Pero ‘yong effect noon sa buong probinsya natin, hindi nila nakikita,” he added.
According to Dr. Mangcucang, this presents a danger since the origins of the meat used to process the products are unknown.
He explained that if the meat used came from an ASF-infected region, the virus may remain in the processed product and could spread through direct contact and ingestion of contaminated food materials.
The ASF virus has a tendency to move in places due to transportation or vehicles used, he added.
“Halimbawa sa hotdog, may tira at tinapon mo sa pakain sa baboy, at kinuha ng kapit bahay. Pinakain niya naman sa baboy niya, paano kung ‘yong hotdog na ‘yon ay positive pala sa ASF? Kaya nga kahit mga kaning baboy ay hindi rin puwede ipakain,” he said.
Dr. Mangcucang said that the typical volume of goods they are able to seize weighs between 10 and 15 kilos and can be sold in local shops even without passing quarantine control.
He said that in areas where the ASF is not present, such as Palawan, prevention relies on the adoption of proper import regulations and biosecurity measures to ensure that no diseased live pigs or pork products are imported.
This involves ensuring appropriate waste food disposal from impacted areas’ planes, ships, and automobiles, as well as monitoring illicit imports.
“Ang maganda lang diyan ay nako-confiscate natin. Iyong iba may shipment, ‘yong iba ay sinusunog talaga, kaunti lang din naman na produkto ay sinusunog talaga. Nasa EO natin ‘yon, meron tayong karapatan na gawin. Actually, sa city ay total ban talaga sila ngayon,” he said.
“Ang masama pa rito, ay walang permit. Hindi man lang dumaan sa quarantine sa Manila kasi nakalagay nga sa karton, parang ipupuslit. Lagi namang [may pagpasok], nababantayan lang natin,” he said.
The ProVet said it is a challenge on their part to monitor the entry of pork-based goods due to the size of the province and the limited number of their personnel. This is the reason why the help of local authorities and the public is needed.
Dr. Mangcucang said that there is no problem if the point of origin of the products came from the green zone or ASF-free areas with required permits. However, it will not be applied if the destination area has an order to ban any entry of processed products.
“Depende pa rin ‘yon kasi tulad niyan halimbawa ang city government, meron sila na executive order na total ban. Meron man ‘yan certificate, maski ‘yan ay ganitong product, talagang hindi nila papapasukin. Lalo na kung ang ordinance nila ay indefinite,” he said.