By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Department of Agriculture (DA) continued to intensify security against the possible entry of African Swine Fever (ASF) into the country, temporarily suspending the importation of pork and pork products coming from Cambodia, among other measures.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol had recently sought the permission of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade so the DA could deploy “meat sniffing dogs” across the country’s international gateways.
This developed as he issued an order banning the entry of pork and pork products from Cambodia following a reported outbreak of the ASF in that country. This was confirmed by the World Animal Health Organization (OIE).
No cases of ASF had been detected in the Philippines so far. But all the entry points in the Philippine already tightened security versus the potential entry of the virus since the country imports significant amount of pork and pork products from ASF affected countries like China.
Based on a data from DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), the country’s local hog industry can raise 28 million heads every year with a combined value of around P240 billion.
Piñol said this amount is more than enough to cater to local demand for pork. To keep it that way, he said the country must “guards its status as a hog disease-free.”
The DA had so far deployed 15 “meat sniffing dogs” at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and other airports in the country.
Another 40 dogs are now being trained for meat sniffing and will be deployed in two months.
In February, Piñol revealed that some of President Rodrigo Duterte’s friends have asked for quarantine exemptions on their agriculture products amid the ASF threat.
Without naming them, Piñol said in a Facebook post that following the strict implementation of quarantine rules against the entry of fresh fruits, vegetables, plants, meat and meat products, some of his friends as well as that of Duterte’s have asked for consideration so that they could pass through quarantine officers sans the required permits. (MBM)