Random checkpoints pushed to stop traffic of sick hogs
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to begin random checkpoints all over the country to fight a new scheme used by some traders to illegally transport pork and pork products tainted with the African swine fever (ASF).
Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Tuesday said they had received reports of traders using private vehicles to smuggle tainted meat in restricted areas to offset losses brought by the hog disease.
He said this scheme had made it harder for officials to track down the tainted pork products.
“I already told authorities to conduct spot checking of private vehicles. These traders know that only livestock carriers like trucks are often being checked that is why they are now employing a new modus,” Dar said.
“We have to ensure that quarantine measures are in place, that protocols are being followed and requirements are being checked,” he added.
Bureau of Animal Industry Director Ronnie Domingo said they had caught traders using vans to transport illegal meat outside ASF-infected areas.
Under the agency’s ASF zoning map, areas with confirmed cases of the disease cannot trade with those that are free from ASF or those that have already been cleared of the virus.The illegal transport of pork products was cited by the DA as one of the major causes for the spread of the hog disease.
Dar had asked hog raisers and dealers to cooperate with the government in monitoring and containing the disease but the request seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
He said that while they had received reports of traders who continued to sell tainted meat online, they had yet to act on these due to lack of manpower and resources to scour the digital space.
Since December last year when the disease was recorded in seven provinces, 55 cities and towns in Luzon, new cases had cropped up in Davao Occidental, Bicol and Batangas.
This had prompted governors in the Visayas to request President Duterte to allow them to put their areas on lockdown, but Dar said that would still be up for discussion.
More cases in Ifugao
In Ifugao, Gov. Jerry Dalipog on Tuesday recommended placing the province under a state of emergency as more ASF cases were recorded despite a ban on the entry of live pigs and pork products.
The new cases were confirmed in the towns of Banaue, Kiangan, Lagawe, Asipulo and Hingyon where 160 hogs had been culled, said James Gopeng, Ifugao provincial veterinarian.
Gopeng said more pigs may be culled in the coming days pending the results of laboratory tests on other random samples, but affected hog raisers would be compensated.
He said the ASF contamination in Ifugao could be due to people bringing home infected pigs and slipping past quarantine checkpoints in the province.
Dar said the ASF outbreak in several provinces could be caused by some hog raisers and traders who sold infected pigs.
“I hope you get bothered by your conscience,” he said, referring to traders of sick hogs.
P1.5-billion aidHe said a quick response fund from the national government was increased from P1 billion to P1.5 billion to help affected hog raisers.
“We hope to stop the ASF outbreak soon. Let’s not butcher or sell infected and sick pigs,” Dar said during the inauguration of a rice and corn education farm at Barangay Homestead II in Talavera, Nueva Ecija.
—With reports from Kimberlie Quitasol and Armand Galang
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