[UPDATED] Guarding against ASF, Bukidnon opens 2 new quarantine checkpoints
MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/16 February 2020) As part of its efforts to heighten protection against the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF), the provincial government has opened two more quarantine checkpoints in its boundaries with other provinces.
The Provincial Veterinarian’s Office (PVO) opened the quarantine checkpoints in San Isidro, Talakag and Bonacao, San Fernando town on February 10, 2020. The Talakag station is for the entry point from Lanao del Norte while the San Fernando station is for Davao del Norte. The measure is in addition to the hiring of additional personnel to ensure 24/7 inspection in all checkpoints.
From seven checkpoints, the province is now operating nine to counter the ASF outbreak, especially with the infection cases in the Davao Region.
The existing checkpoints are located in Alae, Manolo Fortich; Gango, Libona; Nicdao, Baungon; Sta. Inez, Malitbog; Pamotolon, Kalilangan; Omonay, Damulog; and Lorega, Kitaotao.
Dr. Nancy V. Diez, Provincial Veterinarian, assured the public that Bukidnon is still safe from ASF.
“So far, (we have) zero ASF case. Our pork products here are safe,” Diez said.
She clarified that even if the ASF virus can’t affect humans, they prohibit the consumption of ASF-infected pork.
On September 25, 2019, after the ASF infection was confirmed in Luzon, Bukidnon Governor Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr. issued Executive Order 22 for a “temporary total ban of entry of live hogs, pork, pork products and by-products” from ASF areas in Luzon. The order specified meat products coming from Rizal, Bulacan and Quezon City.
But the governor expanded the ban’s scope on October 14, 2019. Zubiri issued EO 26, expanding the scope of EO 22 to include “all other provinces throughout the country” as a “precautionary biosecurity measure for the best interest of the province of Bukidnon.”
As a result, certain businesses, such as fast food chains whose suppliers are from outside Bukidnon, could not dish out pork products on their menu.
The provincial government expanded the coverage of the ban noting that Bukidnon is “the largest pork producer in Mindanao,” and that the ASF is “a serious concern”.
The governor tasked all mayors in Bukidnon’s two cities and 20 towns to “strengthen the implementation of biosecurity measures, hygiene and sanitation standards and the information and education campaign to its constituents and to report immediately any unusual mortalities to the local agriculture veterinary office.
On February 15, a livestock inspector at the Malaybalay City Abattoir told BukidnonNews.Net that to ensure they don’t slaughter hogs that have suspicious origin, they check veterinary health certificates and their specific origins. All hogs intended to be processed in the abattoir will have to obtain clearance from the City Veterinarian, he added.
Zubiri’s expanded EO came two days before Local Governments Secretary Eduardo Ano urged local government units to lift the ban “on processed meat products containing pork for as long as the products meet certain conditions imposed by the Department of Agriculture.”
The province did not lift the ban. Bukidnon hog raisers and related industries supported the move (see related story).
MindaNews reported that based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s (PSA) Livestock and Poultry Situation in Northern Mindanao as of July 01, 2019, Bukidnon registered the highest inventory of swine among all the provinces in Northern Mindanao, at 555,230 heads out of the region’s 997,870.
Diez defended the non-lifting in an interview with BukidnonNews.Net. She said the temporary total lockdown is for the sake of the people in Bukidnon specially, the hog growers.
In case of an outbreak, the PVO said they will implement the 1-7-10 protocol: to put in quarantine all hogs within the one kilometer radius from infected stock, put under surveillance, all stocks within the seven-kilometer radius and declare those within 10 kilometers as control area. The PVO has announced calls for the public to immediately report any illness of their hogs.
The provincial government has employed these bio-security measures even before the ASF situation was reported. Bukidnon is the only province in Mindanao where commuters are asked to disembark at the quarantine checkpoints and vehicles ushered to pass through wheel baths. (With reports from Vergel R. Dolosa /Bukidnon State University BA English intern for BukidnonNews.Net)
PHOTO: A snapshot of the new quarentine checkpoint in Bonacao, San Fernando, Bukidnon/Courtesy of the Provincial Veterinarian's Office