Defensor blasts Bureau of Animal Industry for ASF scourge

Published October 30, 2019, 4:46 PM

by Martin Sadongdong & Antonio Colina

By Ellson Quismorio 

Anakalusugan Party-List Rep. Mike Defensor has joined the chorus of solons who have chastised the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) for the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in the country.

Anakalusugan partylist Rep.  Michael Defensor  (AnaKalusugan partylist Cong. Michael Defensor Official Facebook Page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)
Anakalusugan partylist Rep. Michael Defensor (AnaKalusugan partylist Cong. Michael Defensor Official Facebook Page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

“The responsibility is supposed to be with the Bureau of Animal Industry under the Department of Agriculture,” Defensor said when asked about who should be blamed for the current ASF problem.

According to him, it’s the BAI that should keep a close eye on the particular livestock “from the quarantine entry point of our airport and ports, up to the local swine industry.”

“The monitoring, surveillance and containment are part of their responsibility,” added Defensor, who chairs the relatively new House Committee on Public Accounts.

Earlier this month, Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Carlos Zarate accused the DA of hardly lifting a finger even if the ASF menace was already ravaging the swine industries of Asian and European countries.

“They should have already totally banned these meat and processed meat products from ASF-contaminated countries months ago,” said Zarate, a Senior Deputy Minority Leader.

“It seems the Bureau of Animal Industry has allowed still the continuous importation of meat and bone meal, meat meal, blood meal, blood plasma into the country and their unregulated use in animal feeds,” he underscored.

ASF has a 100 percent mortality rate among hogs. While the ASF virus isn’t known to cross over to humans, the mass culling of thousands of pigs afflicted with the disease has been undertaken by local governments.

As of two weeks ago, the DA said over 52,000 pigs have been culled even as the virus continues to spread to new provinces.

This has adversely affected the local swine industry, especially those engaged in backyard hog-raising.

Asked if he thought the DA had been too distracted by the issue on the Rice Tariffication Law to properly act on the ASF problem, Defensor said, “Mukhang kulang pa sa vigilance (Looks like there’s still a lack of vigilance).”

The DA has also been grappling with plunging farm gate prices of “palay” or unhusked rice from local rice farmers, which has been the top adverse effect of the controversial law.

 
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