Issue of February 9, 2020
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Benguet confirms ASF cases; Shippers, hog raisers blamed
by Ofelia C. Empian

NO ENTRY, TEMPORARILY  -- Benguet Gov. Melchor Diclas has announced Feb. 5 a temporary ban on the entry of live pigs in the province following the confirmed cases of African swine fever in the province brought about by erring commercial swine growers. Here, pork meat continuously sells at the Km. 5, La Trinidad, Benguet with vendors stating the meat went through the proper quarantine checkpoints and has proper sanitation papers. -- Ofelia Empian

Benguet has further tightened its borders against the entry of live pigs following confirmed cases of African swine flu (ASF) in the province. 

Gov. Melchor Diclas has issued Executive Order 2020-010 declaring a “temporary lockdown” on the entry of live pigs in the province following the positive results of ASF virus from samples taken at Camp 1, Tuba and Beckel, La Trinidad based on the report of the Animal Disease Diagnostic Reference Laboratory of the Bureau of Animal Industry.

Diclas expressed dismay over hog raisers and traders who were found to have evaded the checkpoints causing the entry of the disease.

“Due to the great demand for pigs, some unscrupulous shippers resorted to deceitful acts (transport of undocumented pigs in private vehicles to evade checkpoints, fake documents, misdeclaration of sources, unauthorized reproduction of ASF negative test) in order to bring in their commodities into the province,” the EO stated.

Provincial Veterinarian Miriam Tiongan said in the case of the hog raiser in Beckel, he bought 52 piglets through an online seller. The piglets, which were picked up in Pangasinan last Dec. 27, were loaded to an ordinary pick-up truck to avoid detection at the quarantine checkpoints.

After two weeks, the P200,000-worth piglets started exhibiting symptoms of the ASF virus.

The owner, who is a policeman, approached the Provincial Veterinarian Office to report the incident. By the time personnel of the office arrived in the area, 42 piglets died while 10 others survived. 

Tiongan said their office depopulated or euthanized the 10 surviving but sick piglets after getting samples, which turned out positive of the ASF virus. The piglets were buried and the area was sanitized by authorities while the owner was told not to visit other farms.

In Camp 1, a total of 200 pigs were depopulated from the commercial farm on Feb. 4. Tiongan said they suspected the contamination came from the swill feed, which is prohibited, practiced by the swine owner.

The swill feed came from a restaurant in Baguio City, which was earlier called out by the city government to stop the practice of giving away swill feed to hog raisers. 

“He opted to have all his animals killed and buried Tuesday night as he was afraid that people will blame him for bringing ASF,” she said.

The provincial veterinarian said they have partnered with the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Animal Industry for the disinfection of the area as well as surveillance of the surroundings.

Tiongan said they are implementing the 1-7-10 protocol in halting the spread of the ASF virus.

Under the protocol, piggeries within the one-kilometer radius of the infected farm will undergo depopulation and bringing in and out of hogs from the site is prohibited.

For the seven-kilometer radius, hogs will be under surveillance with restricted movements and blood test will be done.

For the 10-kilometer radius, a mandatory monitoring and reporting of swine disease occurrences shall be implemented.  

Aside from these cases, Tiongan said confiscations are conducted including those in Betag, La Trinidad on Jan. 30 where 35 piglets were confiscated by the local police.

The undocumented shipment, on its way to a hog raiser in the town, was found out to have the same origin as the one reported in Beckel, which was also ordered online from Manaoag, Pangasinan.

The local government of Kapangan also confiscated another undocumented shipment with 13 heads of pigs. She said samples were taken from the piglets to be tested for ASF virus.

Tiongan said they are now conducting inventory of the various hog raisers in Benguet to determine where local consumers could buy pork meat. 

She said imported frozen pork meat would still be allowed to enter the province provided it has the necessary permits stating it is ASF-free.

The governor said they are currently studying the penalty to be given to the erring hog raisers and tighten the measures in the various quarantine checkpoints of the province.

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