By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Francis N. Pangilinan urged Thursday all sectors in the hog industry to cooperate with the Department of Agriculture (DA) as it implements measures to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF).
Reacting on reports on oversupply of pork in the country, Pangilinan suggested the suspension of pork importations and to start buying local.
“This will be a big boost to local hog-raisers, many of whom are also farmers seeking to increase their income through hog-raising. We must explore all possible means to help our backyard hog raisers as they bear the brunt of losing their source of income,” he said.
Pangilinan also urged an immediate investigation over the smuggled pork from China that caused this outbreak.
“Someone must be held accountable for these illegal shipments,” he said. “Now that we have confirmed and identified the cause of the ASF outbreak in the Philippines, it is important more than ever to escalate our efforts to curb its spread,’’ he added.
Pangilinan said all concerned sectors must abide by the following protocols:
Surveillance and quick response: “Immediately report to the DA if any pigs in the area are showing any symptoms of ASF, as the DA initiates quick response and tightens its surveillance over affected areas while keeping a close eye on neighboring barangays,’’ he said.
Quarantine checkpoints: “To stop the spread of ASF, establish quarantine checkpoints in affected barangays to ensure that affected pig or pork products remain in the area,” Pangilinan explained.
Culling: “Cooperate with DA-led culling of infected pigs and ensure that proper procedures are followed in the disposing of culled pigs,” he said.
Pangilinan also stressed that the participation of media is vital, as they are instrumental in spreading correct information over this outbreak and lessen the public’s distrust of uninfected pork products.
He recalled his stint as Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization in 2014-2015, when he too faced the agricultural outbreak cocolisap that affected over 4.5 million coconut trees in 57 hotspots nationwide.
“We immediately implemented science-based protocols in partnership with the University of the Philippines Los Baños and a multi-government task force. In one year, we were able to lower the number of infected trees to just half a million, with 57 hotspots down to one,” Pangilinan said.
“Our multi-sectoral, science-based cocolisap action was such that the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) mission described it as ‘commendable’. This is proof that when we act swiftly and as one, we will be able to effectively curb any outbreak,” he added.