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Negros Oriental still ASF-free

Negros Oriental continues to remain free from the African swine fever even as President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of calamity in the entire country Tuesday due to the outbreak of the highly-contagious viral infection that affects pigs.

Dr. Alfonso Tundag, quarantine officer of the Bureau of Animal Industry in Negros Oriental, said yesterday the state of calamity declaration will help contain the ASF spread that has already affected many parts of the country.

“Although our office has not yet received specific instructions regarding the declaration, I believe that it has something to do with the spread of the ASF and how to contain it because, when the outbreak started last year, only a few areas were affected,” he said in mixed English and Cebuano dialect.

The disease that affects domestic hogs and wild pigs started in some parts of Luzon but has now spread to some areas in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Regions 6 and 7 are still ASF-free but some provinces in Region 8, or Eastern Visayas, like Samar and Leyte, are now suffering from the effects of the animal disease, Tundag said.

He added that he is hopeful that with the country under a state of calamity, the provincial government and the local government units will be able to allocate some amount from their respective calamity funds for additional interventions, such as the fielding of more inspectors at entry and exit points in the province.

Negros Oriental, by virtue of an order issued by Gov. Roel Degamo, does not allow the entry of hogs, pork meat, and by-products from places affected by the ASF, Tundag said.

He appealed to Oriental Negrenses to cooperate so as to sustain the province’s efforts in preventing the entry of ASF.

Tundag will meet with Provincial Veterinarian Jaime Villaluz to discuss the state of calamity under Proclamation 1143 that Duterte said will run until the end of the year unless earlier lifted as circumstances may warrant.

‘SHOT-IN-THE-ARM’

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, meanwhile, welcomed the state of calamity declaration.

“The proclamation is a much-needed shot-in-the-arm. It will allow LGUs to set aside part of their Local Risk Reduction and Management Fund, and to allocate for the prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, rehabilitation and recovery that may be brought by the ASF incidence in their respective areas,” Dar said in a statement.

The proclamation issued May 10 enables the DA to partner with LGUs and hog raisers’ groups and the private sector to craft and implement their respective ASF contingency plan.

Dar said it will be anchored on strong and sustained biosecurity, surveillance, monitoring and protection measures, covering both ASF-affected and ASF-free areas.

Since the first reported case in August 2019, the DA said that ASF has spread to 12 regions, 46 provinces, 502 cities and municipalities, and 2,652 barangays.

Over 3 million pigs have been lost, so far, due to ASF, the data showed.

This caused a contraction in pork supply and a surge in retail prices of pork and pork products.

The DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry vouched to work closely with LGUs to ensure that their ASF contingency and action plans are aligned and consistent with the overall plan of the national government.

SUPPORT

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. said it supports Duterte’s decision which effectively freezes proposed adjustments in the ceiling prices of the commodity in spite of the increase in prices for the raw material.

Through this, the government is more likely to achieve its goal of reducing the country’s inflation rate, the group said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, we will need to tighten our belts further until we can get relief by the middle of this year just to help ensure that inflation will not rise any further,” it added.*PNA

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