Int’l animal welfare group urges government to enforce guidelines in reducing the risks of ASF

Published September 23, 2019, 9:38 PM

by CJ Juntereal

By Hanah Tabios

An international animal welfare group is urging the national government to strictly enforce international guidelines in reducing the risks of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country.

Nomerlita Librao, attends to her pigs at her backyward piggery in Sittio Upper Bangkal in Rodriguez, Rizal, August 20 2019. The Department of Agriculture (DA) has revived its Crisis Management Team (CMT) to contain the spread of a suspected animal disease that has been causing the death of backyard-grown pigs. (Mark Balmores)
Nomerlita Librao, attends to her pigs at her backyward piggery in Sittio Upper Bangkal in Rodriguez, Rizal. (Mark Balmores / MANILA BULLETIN)

This, after the organization received concerning reports primarily from the Asian region that a large numbers of pigs were drowned, burnt, or buried alive in ASF-effected countries including the Philippines.

“The cruel treatment of pigs is abhorrent and completely unacceptable. Pigs and other farm animals are not cogs in a machine,” said Mark Dia, Global Farming Director at World Animal Protection as a response on how pigs are being killed in the country in the course of disease control.

“Pigs must be well handled and effectively stunned to ensure they are humanely killed,” he added.

By saying humanely killed, the group suggested the acceptable methods for killing pigs as stated in the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Terrestrial Animal Health Code where it generally suggests electrocution, use of nitrogen gas foam, among others, to humanely slaughter pigs in ASF-affected areas.

The said international guidelines were approved by more than 180 countries worldwide.

They said disposal options and burial practice should also follow the acceptable standards or else the swine disease would still spread despite government efforts to eradicate ASF in the country.

The group stressed the importance of government transparency in addressing the issue, as well as the release of clear and universal guidelines for disease control from the Department of Agriculture (DA) since ASF-infected areas like Quezon City, Marikina, and the provinces of Bulacan and Rizal have been doing their own initiatives to combat the viral swine disease.

Apart from the Philippines, other Asian nations affected by ASF include Cambodia, China, Laos, Mongolia (not active), Myanmar, Vietnam, and North and South Korea.

Globally, 60% of pig population are produced by Asian region as of Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) latest situational update and the Philippines is the 8th largest pig producer in East and Southeast Asia.