By Chino Leyco
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is appealing to the local governments of Bohol and Cebu to reconsider their total ban on hogs, pork and processed pork products from Luzon, where some areas tested positive for African swine fever (ASF).
In a statement, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar requested yesterday the two cities to allow the transport and trade of ASF-free hogs, pork, pork products and processed food items to and from their respective provinces in the Visayas.
“In these trying times, particularly in protecting our shores from the challenges of major diseases such as the ASF, we appeal for unity and brotherhood among our countrymen, most particularly our local chief executives,” Dar said.
In particular, Dar asked Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and Bohol Governor Arthur Yap to “soften their hearts” on ASF-free products coming out of Luzon.
READ MORE: Cebu bans hog, pork shipments from Luzon
The agriculture chief made the appeal after the leaders of the two neighboring provinces issued separate directives, banning the entry of pork and processed pork products on reports of ASF outbreak in small backyard swine farms in Rizal and Bulacan.
The DA reiterated its assurance that the situation was under proper management, even as it continuously works with concerned local government units, private swine industry leaders, Philippine National Police (PNP)_, and military to effectively manage, control, and contain the threat of ASF.
While the disease does not pose any hazard or risk to humans, and other farm and domesticated animals, the DA chief said the ASF virus is very infectious among pigs, and can easily spread from one farm to another if not properly managed.
The DA has also been reminding consumers to buy only pork with the seal of the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), and from reputable meat shops.
Dar reminded that efforts to protect borders against the dreaded disease should not limit the movement of goods and food supplies, suggesting that any ban should be carefully studied.
He said such “hard position could create repercussions, where other provinces may retaliate by cutting off the food stocks to and fro Cebu and Bohol.”
“We would not like that to happen — isolating and depriving each other from the basic right to food,” Dar said.
The two provinces are huge markets for pork, processed meat products, and food items due to their burgeoning tourism industries.