PORK BAN. Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson has issued a memorandum on Monday (Feb. 3, 2020), prohibiting the entry of live pigs, pork products and pork-based items coming from Davao Region after a positive case of African swine fever has been confirmed in Davao Occidental. Negros Occidental has raised a 'very high' alert level in its effort to prevent the entry of live pigs and pork products from Mindanao. (Photo by Erwin P. Nicavera)

BACOLOD CITY -- The Province of Negros Occidental has prohibited the entry of live pigs, pork products and pork-based items coming from Davao Region after a positive case of African swine fever (ASF) has been confirmed in Davao Occidental.

In Memorandum No. 20-001 issued on Monday, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson directed all city and municipal mayors to enforce the ban “by virtue of Provincial Ordinance No. 2019-024 otherwise known as the ASF Prevention Ordinance of Negros Occidental, specifically Section 4 thereof and in view of the recent reports of ASF in Davao Occidental.”

Lacson, the chairperson of the Provincial ASF Task Force, told local chief executives to implement preventive measures in their respective areas of jurisdiction and enjoined local government units (LGUs) to coordinate their activities with the task force to ensure a coordinated response and action throughout the province.

Measures include the conduct of rigid and stringent screening and inspection of incoming shipments of live animals and pork products from Mindanao, and holding of checkpoints to intercept and control the movement of live animals, pork, pork products, and other related items entering the province.

In the order, Lacson also said that there should be “confiscation and condemnation of undocumented shipment of live animals, animal products and by-products to the province”.

“Conduct of mandatory and regular disinfection of transport carriers upon arrival at ports of entry and ensure proper disposal of food wastes from sea vessels must also be implemented,” he added.

The governor further directed the mayors and task force members to report any cases of unusual mortalities among pigs within their area to ensure a prompt and immediate response.

On January 31, the Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed an ASF case in Don Marcelino town in Davao Occidental, the first in Mindanao. About 1,000 heads of swine have been reported to have died in the town’s eight villages.

Dr. Renante Decena, provincial veterinarian and ASF task force co-chair, said Negros Occidental has raised a “very high” alert level in its effort to prevent the entry of live pigs and pork products from Mindanao.

He said that he issued a memorandum to all veterinary inspectors placing Negros Occidental on a “very high alert” to maintain its status as an ASF-free province.

The Provincial ASF Task Force has been instructed to strictly monitor the entry of pork meat products from Mindanao especially those shipped from Davao and General Santos City.

Decena said ASF has reached Davao Occidental probably because they have not banned the entry of pork meat products, and that canned goods with ASF might have caused the contamination.

“The shipments from Mindanao actually pass through Dapitan, Dumaguete City, Kabankalan City and Bredco Port in Bacolod City going to Dumangas in Iloilo and Manila destinations,” he said.

Decena added that although Negros Occidental does not source out pigs because it has a surplus supply, its personnel still conduct disinfection procedures in ports.

Negros Occidental is the number one backyard hog raiser in the country, with a current total population of some 550,000 live pigs.

Last December, the province imposed a permanent ban on the entry of pork from Luzon and other affected areas to the province through an ordinance to protect its PHP6-billion swine industry from the dreaded ASF. (PNA)