The Department of Agriculture in the Caraga Region (DA-13) said it has intensified its preventive measures to prevent the entry of the dreaded African swine fever (ASF) in the area.
Caraga Region remains ASF-free despite the spread of the disease in the neighboring Davao Region, said DA-13 Executive Director Abel James Monteagudo.
Monteagudo also clarified that there is no lockdown being implemented in the region contrary to previous reports.
“We do not ban the entry of live hogs, pork meat, and pork-based products in the region as long as these products are from ASF-free areas such as Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro, and accompanied with complete documents as required,” Monteagudo said in a press briefing on Friday (March 6).
Meanwhile, pork products from General Santos City and parts of Region 12, when traveled through Davao areas, are prohibited in the region, the DA-13 chief said.
The Bureau of Animal Industry in the region (BAI-13) said it has five existing quarantine checkpoints located strategically in the borders of the region.
“All passengers of public and private vehicles are now required to step in designated footbaths while the vehicles are required to undergo wheel sprays in quarantine checkpoints,” said Dr. Aldwin Cuenca of BAI-13.
Footbaths are also present in the major ports in the area and at the Bancasi Airport in Butuan City, he said.
To augment the quarantine checkpoints of BAI-13, the Philippine National Police in the region also mounted three quarantine checkpoints while 20 different LGUs in the area also established their own quarantine checkpoints.
Meanwhile, the National Meat Inspection Service in the region (NMIS-13) said the spread of ASF in the neighboring areas has minimal effect on the supply of pork in the area.
Dr. Bernadeth Montenegro of NMIS-13 said 55 percent of pork supply in the region comes from the other provinces, such as Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental.
Montenegro also assured the public that their office is regularly monitoring the slaughterhouses in provinces and in Butuan City.
In Butuan City, Dr. Mancio Danilo Alegado, chief of the City Veterinary Office, also told reporters Friday that three quarantine checkpoints have been established by the city government particularly in the area of Ampayon, Villa Kanangga and in Bancasi Airport.
Alegado added that the Office of the Mayor has already issued an executive order creating the local ASF task force.
Meanwhile, several pork suppliers in this city said they have already felt the effects of the ASF scare as the dreaded animal disease hit several parts of Mindanao.
“The scare is affecting us. We know that Butuan and Caraga are still free from ASF but there are people who spread wrong information that drives away our usual customers,” said Nieza Balberan, 32, who is engaged in roasted pig business.
“Before the ASF hit the country, we could earn an average net income of PHP100,000 a month. Now it’s different. There are days that we experience zero sales,” Balberan said.
She said even the purchase of live hogs for their stocks is becoming increasingly difficult following the lockdowns imposed by several local governments in neighboring regions.
Balberan also asked the government to intensify its information drive on ASF so that people will be informed that Caraga Region remains ASF-free and that pork meat products in the area are safe for human consumption.
“If this will go on for long, I fear we might have to close shop,” she said. (PNA)