By Madelaine Miraflor
Upon reaching two new areas, African Swine Fever (ASF) is now out to kill more pigs in Luzon, with the Department of Agriculture (DA) hopelessly appealing for the nth time for hog raisers and traders “not to take advantage of the situation” and stop illegally transporting pigs coming from infected backyard farms.
“To traders, this is not the time to take advantage of the situation. Let us not transport hogs or meat products from the affected areas. Please! Let’s protect our hog industry,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in an interview with reporters on Friday.
This is not the first time Dar made such call, but this time, he said it as the deadly swine disease reached the backyard farms of Cavite and started to kill pigs somewhere in Dasmariñas.
Dar said that as of now, the local government unit (LGU) of Dasmariñas is already implementing the 1-7-10 protocol to prevent the virus from spreading into other areas.
This means that within one kilometer (km)-radius of infected farms, there would be quarantine checkpoints to prevent movement of all live pigs, pork, and pork-related products, and that all pigs within the area must be culled.
For swine farms within the 7-km radius, the government must conduct surveillance procedures, test animals to determine the extent of the infection, and limit animal movement, while in farms within the 10-km radius, mandatory disease reporting is required.
ASF, a fatal animal disease among hogs, has been killing pigs around Asia since last year. In the Philippines, the virus was detected only in August and had so far spread to several areas in Luzon, including Rizal, Bulacan, Quezon City, Pampanga, Antipolo, and Pangasinan.
Dar also said the virus has actually spread to Nueva Ecija too but was quick to add that it has already been contained.
Right now, ASF has already resulted to the death and culling of as many as 52,000 hogs, still representing one-third of the country’s total hog population, which stood at 12.8 million hogs as of July.
A few weeks ago, groups and lawmakers have expressed disappointment over the small indemnification fund the DA has been giving the backyard hog raisers that were affected by ASF.
This is making backyard raisers reluctant to surrender their pigs that are showing manifestation of the virus, according to AGAP Partylist Representative Rico B. Geron.
“One of the reasons why the government can’t contain the spread of the virus is because the farmers will rather hide their infected pigs and will find other ways to dispose them,” Geron said earlier.
The DA is now addressing all these issues one by one. From a compensation of only P3,000 per pig, local backyard raisers will now be paid P5,000 for each of their pigs the government will cull to prevent ASF from spreading in certain areas.
Dar also said the agency is now ready to apprehend and file cases against hog raisers and traders caught selling or buying and transporting live hogs, slaughtering ASF-infected pigs, and selling ASF-tainted pork products.