LGUs warned vs hard-line stance on entry of pork
The Department of Agriculture warned of interisland trade wars as some local governments hunker down, with at least two declaring total hog bans, to protect their territories amid fears of the spread of African swine fever outbreaks.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar called for sobriety as he urged executives of Cebu and Bohol to reconsider their total ban on hogs, pork and processed meat products from Luzon where outbreaks have been confirmed in Rizal, Bulacan and Quezon City.
The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) last week said the ban in Cebu and Bohol—if these were prolonged—could reduce the P300-billion domestic processed meat industry by 10 to 15 percent, expecting losses of P30 billion to P45 billion.
CDO Foodsphere Inc. alone said it has decided to cut back this year its production of Christmas ham by 15 to 20 percent, considering that they would not be able to sell to Cebu and Bohol.
Worse, for the same reason, an unnamed Pampi member has decided to not produce the seasonal delicacy at all.
“In these trying times, particularly in protecting our shores from the challenges of major diseases such as the ASF, we appeal for unity and brotherhood among our countrymen, most particularly our local chief executives,” Dar said in a statement.
Dar appealed to Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap—a former agriculture secretary—to “soften their hearts and allow the transport and trade of ASF-free hogs, pork, pork products and processed food items to and from their respective provinces.”
He made the appeal after the leaders of the two neighboring provinces issued separate directives banning the entry of pork and processed pork products on reports of ASF outbreaks in small backyard swine farms in Rizal and Bulacan.
Agriculture officials have reiterated assurances to the public that the situation was “under proper management” and that the outbreaks were “controlled and contained” with help from concerned local government units, private swine industry leaders, the Philippine National Police and the military.
As of last Friday, the DA said there were now a total of 11 sites where laboratory test have confirmed the incidence of African swine fever.
These include the barangays of San Isidro, San Jose, Macabud, Geronimo, San Rafael and Mascap—all in Rodriguez, Rizal.
Other sites are the San Mateo Slaughterhouse in Rizal, Barangay Cupang in Antipolo City, Barangay Pritil in Guiguinto, Bulacan, as well as barangays Bagong Silangan and Payatas in Quezon City.
Around these sites, authorities have set in motion the so-called 1-7-10 protocol to manage, control and contain the outbreaks.
This means hog raisers within a 10-kilometer radius of the affected farms are required to report to authorities when their pigs show signs of the disease. Also, there will be monitoring of and limitation of the movement of pigs within a 7 kilometers. Pigs are not allowed to be brought outside a one-kilometer radius.
Dar said efforts to protect provincial borders against the dreaded disease should not limit the movement of goods and food supplies and that any ban should be carefully studied.
Such “hard position [total ban] could create repercussions, where other provinces may retaliate by cutting off the food stocks to and from Cebu and Bohol,” Dar said.
“We would not like that to happen—isolating and depriving each other from the basic right to food,” he added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.