BAGUIO CITY — More than six months after the government admitted the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in July 2019, the illness afflicting the hog industry reached the Province of Benguet.

Benguet Governor Melchor Diclas confirmed that samples from suspected infected pigs tested positive of ASF. The Animal Disease Diagnostic Reference Laboratory, Bureau of Animal Industry, conducted the examination. Recorded cases for the ASF in the province were in Camp 1, Tuba, and Beckel, La Trinidad, reports said.

In response, the governor issued Executive Order (EO) 2020-010, imposing a temporary ban on the entry of live pigs in the province.

The EO strengthens the implementation of Provincial Ordinance 18-227, otherwise known as the Animal Quarantine Regulation of the province. In the order, Diclas underscored that the ordinance effectively prevented the entry of ASF in Benguet until the recent confirmation of the ASF infection in Tuba and La Trinidad.

According to him, almost all of the sources of pigs in Regions I, II, III, IV, and the National Capital Region are infected with the ASF virus. He noted that the extent of the infection is becoming more extensive and is now alarming.

Diclas blamed “unscrupulous shippers” who used “deceitful acts” to transport undocumented hogs and bypass checkpoints. He said that some hog traders utilized private vehicles, fake ASF test results, and lie about the source of their product.

The governor also criticized swine raisers who are still patronizing swill or leftover foods from restaurants despite the prohibition. Some food outlets in the city sell leftover foods to swine raisers in the city and nearby municipalities.

Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Merriam Tiongan confirmed that surveys are on the way for the effective execution of the 1-7-10 Protocol to contain the virus in the affected areas. ASF-containment procedure prohibits the entry and exit of hogs within the 1-kilometer radius from the infection site. Also restricted from travel are pigs raised within the 7-kilometer radius, and are put under strict monitoring, including the conduct of regular blood testing. For the 10-kilometer range from ground zero, the protocol mandates hog raisers to monitor and report any observation or apparent symptoms of swine disease.

Diclas has issued two other EOs prohibiting the entry of hogs and pork products in the province. In September 2019, the governor also issued EO 2019-36. The order imposed a temporary ban on the entry of live pigs and pork products from Rizal, Bulacan, Quezon City, Marikina, Caloocan, and Pasig City.

After the confirmed ASF infection in Bayambang, Pangasinan, the governor released EO 42-2019 on October 24. The order banned similar products from the towns of Mapandan, San Jacinto, Mangaldan, Sta. Barbara, Manaoag, Laoac, Alcala, Bautista, Malasiqui, Basista, San Carlos City, Urbiztondo, Mangatarem, Urdaneta, Dagupan, Calasiao, Bayambang, San Fabian and Pozorrubio.

Officials set up 24/7 checkpoints across Benguet to inspects the documents live pigs and pork products entering the province. They installed the quarantine stops in the towns of Sablan, Bokod, Bugias, and Mankayan. Checkpoints were also present in Marcos Highway and Kennon Road.

The orders intended to protect the local swine industry and livelihood in the province. At the time of the earlier ban, the provincial veterinary office recorded more than16,000 swine raisers in Benguet.

Provinces in the neighboring regions of Ilocos and Cagayan Valley also imposed similar bans. To date, the provinces of Isabela, Quirino, and Nueva Vizcaya in Region 2 and Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte in Region 1 still bar the entry of live pigs and frozen pork. Except for Pangasinan and Benguet, no other province has confirmed ASF infections in Northern Luzon. # nordis.net

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