By Argyll Geducos
Malacañang on Monday gave the assurance anew that it was safe to consume pork products despite the announcement of the Quezon City government that 11 dead pigs found in the city tested positive for African Swine Fever (ASF).
Panelo made the statement after the Department of Agriculture (DA) refuted the announcement of Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, saying they should have left the task of announcing the hog deaths to the DA.
In his Monday press briefing, Panelo said that the situation was still under control, and that it was still safe to eat pork.
“Definitely [the situation is under control] because the Department of Agriculture has already made specific areas where that disease is contained. Meaning in Rodriguez, Antipolo and one part in Bulacan. Those are the only areas and they said it is safe and in fact they ate the meat as I did every day,” Panelo said.
“The DA said it is [safe to eat pork], and so it is,” he added.
When asked about the announcement of the Quezon City government, Panelo expressed certainty that the DA will be able to handle the issue, adding that backyard hog raisers would have been already informed about the disease.
“I’m sure the Department of Agriculture will take care of that,” he said.
“By this time, those areas have been informed what they should do relative to that,” he added.
Panelo, however, said it would have been better if the DA was informed first before any announcement was made.
“The better action will be to call the DA Secretary first so that he would know exactly what is happening in one particular place,” he said.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, DA spokesperson Noel Reyes said that they were refuting the announcement made by the Quezon City government.
“Tinawagan ni Secretary [William] Dar si Mayor Joy Belmonte kaninang umaga kasi hindi po ganun (testing pigs for ASF) kabilis yun. Ibig sabihin, vina-validate pa ho yun. Ibig sabihin, mismo yung veterinarian nila (Quezon City) masiyadong trigger happy (Secretary Dar called Mayor Belmonte and told her that the testing of pigs for ASF is not that short. It needs to be validated. Meaning, even their city veterinarian was very trigger happy),” he said.
Spoke to soon?
Meanwhile, Panelo said he believed that the DA did not speak too soon when it announced that the disease was already contained.
“They are the ones who investigated the incident and so, their statement is based on their findings,” he said.
“As far as they are concerned they handled it properly. If there are isolated cases in one place, then they will take care of that,” he added.
“There is no need for any directive from this Palace simply because the DA Secretary knows what he is going to do. He has been tasked to do it, and he is doing it,” Panelo said.