By Lezlie Basa-Inigo
Lingayen, Pangasinan—-The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) has declared hog trader Roger Erpelo a persona non grata or an “unwanted person”.
This stemmed from an incident last September 26 when Erpelo, of Barangay Baloling in Mapandan, brought pigs from Bulacan, one of the provinces where hogs were affected with African Swine Fever (ASF).
Prime author, SP member Jeremy Agerico Rosario said in his preliminary statement that the unfortunate incident was the “result of the selfish and irresponsible act of a person,” and even likened it to a form of economic sabotage.
According to Rosario, prices of hog meat in Mapandan have plunged to as low as P100 per kilo from its regular price of P220.
The official said Erpelo clearly violated Executive Order (EO) 0092-2019, earlier signed by Gov. Amado Espino III, imposing a ban on the entry of all live swine/pigs to Pangasinan from all provinces.
It was learned that the hog trader took the Anao exit to San Manuel town, Tarlac to Bersamin in Alcala town, went right to Carmen bridge on the way to Villasis, and to Urdaneta then to Urdaneta Bypass Road, then sitio Guam to Mapandan.
Geraldine Baniqued, Provincial Legal Officer stated that cases have been filed against Erpelo on October 4 at the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for “falsification of documents, violation of EO 0080-2019 and 0092-201, Tax Ordinance 1-2012 and other pertinent laws.”
“He (Erpelo) knows that there is a total ban and it is unfair to put the blame on our people (personnel manning the check points). I do not think that our people are to be blamed,” said Baniqued, a lawyer.
She further stressed that the provincial government did its best to augment the personnel of the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian by directing other staff from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) and the Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) to assist in the animal quarantine checkpoints.
As per the complaint affidavit, Erpelo not only violated the executive orders but committed falsification, as well.
“The local shipping permit for the pigs transported by Mr. Roger Erpelo which was purportedly issued by the Provincial Government of Bulacan have also been tampered. There are superimpositions made on some entries in the said local shipping permit, particularly on the date and the number of heads of pig. Falsification of public document is clearly present,” it stated.
Falsification of the Veterinary Health Certificate was also found evident as it stated that the “fattener had been examined and found to be apparently healthy and free from evidence of any communicable disease.”
Meanwhile, Acting Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Jovito Tabajeros said that all efforts will be exerted to ensure that no similar case of illegal transport of hogs will happen in Pangasinan, which local officials want to be ASF-free.
Tabajeros bared during the recent Provincial Security Summit that ASF in Pangasinan was under control.
He also said the contingency plan of the provincial government would include the banning of pork imports, avoiding swill feeding, blocking of swine entry in the province, educating the people, and submitting laboratory samples to the responsible offices.
Tabajeros reiterated that the ASF virus is not transferable to humans but is a viral disease that causes 100 percent mortality rate of affected swine.
In compliance with the 1-7-10 protocol, some hogs from the towns and cities within the seven-kilometer radius covering Mangaldan, Manaoag, Urdaneta, San Jacinto, Laoac, Pozzorubio, and the rest of Mapandan-area remain under surveillance. Hogs were also randomly tested and came out negative of ASF infection.