DA: Bicol still free from ASF

TASTE TEST. Department of Agriculture OIC Executive Regional Director Rodel P. Tornilla leads the boodle fight on September 16 at the DA Conference Room, Pili, Camarines Sur to assure Bicolanos that pork in the region is ASF-free. JRMadrid-PIAV/Camarines Sur

PILI, Camarines Sur --- “We wish to inform our fellow Bicolanos that, so far, the Bicol Region is ASF-free.”

Such was the assurance made by Department of Agriculture (DA) OIC Executive Regional Director Rodel P. Tornilla during a boodle fight participated in by DA personnel and members of the media at the DA Conference Room, here.

The meal, composed of lechon, a pork delicacy, Bicol’s spicy sweet laing and pile of rice lined up for everyone to partake, was part of DA’s assurance that the Bicol Region remains free from the dreaded African Swine fever after news of ASF outbreak were reported in Rizal and Bulacan provinces recently.

“We have activated and mobilized our Regional Quick Response Team to implement complementary measures and intensify surveillance, particularly at entry points to assure everyone that no contaminated pig or pork products enter the region. As of now, there is no reported incidence of massive and abnormal deaths or mortalities of pigs in our region,” Tornilla said during the press interview.

The official stressed they have already directed personnel manning the animal checkpoints in all entry points in Bicol, particularly the BAI checkpoint in Tabugon, Camarines Norte to be on the lookout for persons who will try to bring in live pigs with no proper transport permit and Veterinary Health Certificate.

In response, the Provincial Government of Camarines Sur has put up an Emergency Operations Center for ASF to ensure that concerns about the said disease will be immediately addressed.

African Swine Fever or ASF is a swine fever virus that causes hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in domestic pigs. It usually causes the animal’s death within a week after a pig or swine is infected with the virus.

Tornilla nevertheless assured the public that ASF does not pose hazard or risk to humans but reminded them to be vigilant when buying meat and meat products and to always look for the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) seal as a guarantee that the pork product is indeed safe.

“Meat and processed meat and meat products brought in the region without appropriate NMIS seal and veterinary health certificate are confiscated and properly disposed of. We maintain that meat and meat products with appropriate NMIS seal and veterinary health certificates issued by DA- Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and veterinary offices of LGUs that are sold in public markets are safe for human consumption. We assure the public that there is enough supply of pork in the market,” Tornilla stressed in a press statement.

The official also advised swine raisers to enhance their biosecurity measures and to promptly report any unusual animal deaths in their areas and to avoid swill feeding.

“The DA, in close coordination with the attached agencies like the BAI Quarantine Services and the NMIS and the local government units, including the private sector and industry stakeholders has instituted measures to protect our region from ASF. In case that ASF unfortunately finds a way, DA is more than ready and contingency plans are already in place,” Tornilla concluded.