ENSURING MEAT SAFETY. Dr. Marites Linsag-Erispe, Veterinarian Services Office chief of Mati City (with hat) inspects a meat stall on Monday (Feb. 3, 2020) to ensure that it is safe for consumption and African swine fever-free. Following the confirmed incident of ASF in Don Marcelino town in Davao Occidental last week, the Mati City Veterinarian Services Office says it is doubling its effort to prevent the entry of the dreaded swine disease in the city. (Photo courtesy of Mati CIO)

DAVAO CITY -- Following the confirmed case of African swine fever (ASF) in Davao Occidental last week, the Mati City Veterinarian Services Office (CVSO) said it has doubled efforts to prevent the highly contagious hemorrhagic viral disease in the city.

Dr. Marites Linsag-Erispe, CVSO chief, said that since the outbreak of ASF in Luzon and the recent outbreak in Davao Occidental, the City of Mati in Davao Oriental remains ASF-free.

Erispe said this is due to the safety protocols the city has implemented together with the Davao Oriental provincial government that created the ASF Task Force as early as last year.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) confirmed on Friday (January 31) an ASF case in Don Marcelino town in Davao Occidental -- the first in Mindanao.

Don Marcelino Mayor Michael Maruya ordered a "24/7 temporary lockdown" in the selling and buying of pigs following the death of about 1,000 heads of swine in eight barangays -- Linadasan, North Lamidan, South Lamidan, Calian, Mabuhay, Lawa, Nueva Villa, and Baluntaya.

Erispe said that with the outbreak in Davao Occidental, they are working to further strengthen their safety measures considering that about 35,000 pigs could be affected if ever ASF enters the city.

"I am also calling the attention of the grocery stores to stop selling China-made pork products in their stores," she said, adding that, it was learned that some stores continue to sell canned goods and other pork products from China in the hope of recovering their investments.

Erispe said they also have banned the entry of any pork coming from outside of Mati City even if they are only in minimal amount or for personal consumption.

She added the border security patrol units are authorized to confiscate and destroy all pork products coming into Mati City that does not have the necessary permits and papers.

Meanwhile, Gov. Nelson Dayanghirang noted even before the Don Marcelino case, the provincial government has already banned the entry of swine or pork-based products coming from Luzon and other ASF-affected areas from entering the province.

In September last year, Dayanghirang issued Executive Order 29 which prohibits the entry of “all swine or pork-related products and by-products whether edible or non-edible, whether raw, processed or cooked, including but not limited frozen boar semen” coming from affected areas.

Also included in the ban are imported canned goods from ASF-affected countries. The order also prohibits feeding swill or leftover food scraps to pigs, especially those coming from restaurants, hotels, and other food establishments. (PNA)