BANNED PORK PRODUCTS. Seized pork products were immediately burned after arrival at two seaports of Bacolod City early in November 2022. The city and the province of Negros Occidental are prohibiting the entry of pigs, pork, and pork products to protect the local swine industry from the sources of infection caused by African swine fever. (Photo courtesy of Bacolod City PIO)

BACOLOD CITY – Inspection of cargoes and vehicles coming from Panay Island to prevent the entry of pigs and pork products here has been intensified in two major seaports as cases of African swine fever (ASF) have spread to five localities in the neighboring Iloilo Province.

As of Wednesday, some 40 job order (JO) workers of the city have already been deployed to assist in the monitoring and inspection while 10 personnel of the Bacolod City Police Office have also been assigned at the Bredco and Banago ports.

Dr. Placeda Lemana, officer-in-charge of the Negros Occidental Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO), said quarantine inspection now includes not only cargoes and vehicles arriving through vessels from Iloilo and Luzon, but those aboard fast crafts from Iloilo City as well.

“The joint city and province ASF task force is very helpful since we now have more areas to monitor. It’s a big advantage that Bacolod City has augmented the inspection with its JO personnel,” she added.

Latest figures showed some 128 kilograms of pork products have recently been seized upon arrival in the two ports and at Bacolod-Silay Airport in Silay City.

The confiscated items came from the provinces of Iloilo and Pampanga, Lemana said.

As part of the information campaign, the flyers with information on the pork ban in the city and the province are being attached to tickets purchased by the passengers, she added.

In the last week of October, JO personnel from the city’s Public Affairs and Assistance Division trained under the PVO Animal Health and Meat Services Division in preparation for their deployment to Bredco and Banago ports.

This came after Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez issued a consolidated executive order creating a joint ASF task force to harmonize the policies of both the province and this capital city in prohibiting the entry of the sources of infection caused by the dreaded hog disease.

On Oct. 14, Lacson ordered a ban on the entry of all pigs, pork, pork products, and other related items from the provinces of Iloilo, Antique, Capiz, Aklan, and Guimaras, after suspected ASF cases were reported in Iloilo.

Negros Occidental, an ASF-free province with a PHP6-billion hog industry, also enforces a similar ban for Luzon, Mindanao, and Eastern Visayas, which have areas with confirmed cases of the swine disease. (PNA)