ODIONGAN, Romblon – Cops are back to help the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO) enforce the ban on pigs and pork products from outside the town’s borders as part of strict quarantine measures against African swine fever (ASF).
In an interview on Sunday, municipal agriculturist Rexfort Famisaran said it has been challenging for MAO employees to exact compliance among motorists attempting to transport live hogs and fresh or processed pork meat through five checkpoints with no assistance from law enforcers.
Famisaran said early in October, the police reinforced the MAO checkpoints when town authorities ordered the ban on the entry of live hogs and pork products.
However, law enforcers at animal quarantine checkpoints were pulled out shortly before the Oct. 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections to secure voting precincts and ensure order in the aftermath of the polls.
“There really needs to be policemen at our checkpoints because people transporting pork tend to be uncooperative. They are more likely to submit to inspections when there is a cop around,” he said in Filipino.
Famisaran said his office appealed to the Philippine National Police here to detail at least one officer in each checkpoint to lend more authority to the MAO’s mission of insulating the town against ASF-infected animals and products.
Philippine Coast Guard personnel have also been helping MAO enforce quarantine measures at the port of Odiongan.
Famisaran reiterated that the prohibition also applies to processed pork meat such as ham, longganisa (native sausage), hotdogs and similar products.
He clarified that pork grown in ASF-free piggeries within Odiongan can be consumed by townsfolk and even exported to other towns and provinces.
He said the continued implementation of quarantine measures even if ASF seemed to have been contained is intended to protect the town’s commercial piggeries.
A majority of the town’s estimated 4,000 hog population are concentrated in commercial piggeries, while a few are in backyard (small-scale) piggeries where the ASF infection was earlier detected.
The backyard piggery where ASF was initially detected is still surrounded by a 500-meter radius exclusion zone. (PNA)