QC gov’t on burial of ASF-infected pigs in UP community: What secret?
MANILA, Philippines—The Quezon City government confronted accusations it had been burying in secret pigs infected by African Swine Fever (ASF), saying there was no secret at all in a process that strictly followed protocol.
The Quezon City ASF Validating Team said 121 pigs infected by ASF had been buried following dialogues with village officials, hog raisers and the University of the Philippines’ administration.
The pigs were buried in UP Diliman.
“Right off the bat, we vehemently deny accusations that the burial of 121 African Swine Fever (ASF)-infected pigs was done secretly,” the team said in a statement sent to reporters on Thursday, Nov. 28.
“The burial only proceeded after the approval of the UP chancellor for the use of the land as burial site and concurrence from all concerned stakeholders,” the statement added. “Also, nothing was done outside of accepted protocols in dealing with ASF.”
Reports from other news sites on Wednesday quoted residents of Pook Arboretum, where the pigs were supposed to have been buried, as claiming that the process was done in secret.
One resident was quoted as saying the burial of the infected pigs in the community raised concern over the effect of ASF on the people’s health and hygiene. ASF is not transferrable to humans.
The Quezon City government’s ASF Validating Team, however, said the pigs were culled to prevent the spread of ASF and buried far from residential areas in accordance with the 1-7-10 protocol.
The protocol required the creation of quarantine checkpoints within 1-kilometer radius of where an ASF case had been confirmed, surveillance of cases inside a 7-kilometer radius and reporting of cases within a 10-kilometer radius.
The Quezon City team said protocol set by the national government and Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Industry for ASF cases required infected pigs to be buried near the village where ASF was discovered to prevent the virus from spreading to other areas.
A team composed of the city veterinarian’s office, police and health department “looked for the best area to turn into a burial site within Barangay UP Campus.”
“When the ideal site was identified, the team sought the approval of the UP chancellor for it to be used as burial grounds for ASF-infected pigs,” the team said.
The city government also repeated that ASF does not infect humans although humans can be carriers of the disease.
“We assure residents that even if burial sites are within their community, it will not endanger human health,” the team said.
“We also remind them that burial areas should be off limits as humans, though not affected, can be carriers of the virus and spread it to other areas where hog raising is a vital livelihood,” it added.
A community leader, however, insisted that City Hall failed to inform residents about the burial of ASF-infected pigs.
Carmelita Collado said City Hall was lying. “The people will not protest if there was public consultation,” she said.
“They’re really puzzled about the digging and they were shooed away,” Collado said in a phone interview.
“They really denied it, and personally, there was no public consultation even in the barangay level and the residents of Pook Arboretum,” she added.
“I do not know the scientific effect of ASF but my point is, why do they have to place the pigs near a residential area? You know the foul odor, if you smell it while eating, it has a psychological effect. The people know that pigs have been buried there. What if they are eating pork?”
Quezon City is one of the areas hardest-hit by ASF infection.
Collado, however, continued to raise suspicion even linking the burial of the pigs to extrajudicial killings because she insisted that it was done in secret.
“My point here is, you are digging graves, and you were able to keep it a secret,” she said.
“You know the overall situation of our security and the program of the administration regarding Red-tagging and others,” she said.
“Second, the UP Administration may say that because pigs were buried there, we should voluntarily demolish our houses,” she said.
Edited by TSB
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