Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has ordered a ban on importation of pork and pork-based products from eight countries which were hit with the dreaded hog disease African Swine Fever (ASF).
Piñol said the products cannot be brought into the country and will be confiscated at points of entry to prevent the spread of ASF in the country.
Reports said the countries affected by ASF are Belgium, China, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.
Piñol added that although the country has already taken steps to address the newest threat to livestock and poultry as early as August of this year, the DA through the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), will be implementing more stringent measures to close the country’s borders temporarily to pork and pork-based products from the eight countries as reports indicated that the dreaded disease is spreading, especially in China.
The ASF has been described by experts as a “contagious, untreatable and often fatal virus sweeping the global pig population -- and future mutations could affect humans.”
Aside from the importation ban, Piñol also ordered the establishment of foot baths in all entry point of the country including those arriving via cruise ships.
Piñol added that there will be mandatory inspection, in coordination with other concerned agencies, of all vessels docking at Philippine ports with meat supplies and fishing boats returning from the West Philippine Sea because of reports of bartering of sea products with imported meat.
He also directed the BAI to closely coordinate with the Bureau of Customs at all international air and sea ports for the conduct of rigid inspection on checked in and hand-carried luggages of all incoming passengers from ASF-affected countries.
Piñol stressed that all pork products from the ASF-affected countries will be confiscated and destructed within 24 hours after interception.
“To implement these measures and to protect our hog industry, I urge everybody to be vigilant and step forward and participate in this movement,” Piñol said.
He also urged stakeholders of the hog sector to volunteer as “Deputized Quarantine Officers” so they will be able to implement the safeguards to protect the industry which is the source of livelihood of millions of Filipino farmers.
“I also would like to ask for understanding from our incoming passengers and returning Filipinos for the inconvenience that these measures might cause. Please understand that the Philippines zealously guards its status as a hog disease-free country and that status if protected properly could benefit our farmers and the country as well,” he explained.