ASF-infected pig allegedly served in Lechon Festival

One of the roasted pigs paraded during the 1st Lechon Festival of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo was infected with the African Swine Fever. (Photo from Ugyon Sta Barbara FB page)

By John Noel E. Herrera

One pig infected with African Swine Fever (ASF) was allegedly paraded and served during the 1st Lechon Festival conducted by the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Santa Barbara, Iloilo on Nov 27, 2022.

The LGU said that it is currently investigating the incident after it was reported that the blood sample of the pig tested positive for ASF.

Sta. Barbara Mayor Dennis Superficial added that they are already coordinating with the town’s agriculture office to know what really happened and how the pig was infected.

A report from Aksyon Radyo Iloilo stated that all the pigs prepared for the festival were initially subjected to ASF testing before they were roasted and served for the Lechon Festival, and the results only came out on Dec 1, 2022.

Superficial also said that they still could not determine if the infected pig was among those served during the festival, as investigations are currently being done.

As part of the probe, Superficial added that he wanted to know the process of extracting blood samples from the pigs subjected to ASF testing.

The Department of Agriculture (DA)-6 earlier said that ASF does not affect humans and it has no impact on public health. But, humans can carry the virus on their clothing, shoes, and equipment, and can spread the disease unknowingly to pigs.

To recall, 54 pigs were roasted and paraded for the 1st Lechon Festival in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo as part of the province’s initiative of helping towns and farmers affected by ASF.

The festival, however, resulted in disappointment as some visitors who traveled to Sta. Barbara were turned down and were not able to eat lechon, as most of the lechons were already reserved prior to the activity.

Meanwhile, the Iloilo Provincial Government placed the entire towns of Santa Barbara and Alimodian in red (infected) zone after two or more barangays were already affected by ASF.

In an executive order issued by Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. on Friday, Dec 2, 2022, it was stated that swine specimen samples from Brgy. Coline, Alimodian, Iloilo tested positive for ASF using the convective PCR (cPCR) test for ASF.

“Swine specimen samples from Brgys. San Sebastian, Tigtig, Buyo, Cafe and Nasugban, Santa Barbara, Iloilo, were tested positive for ASF,” it added.

To date, there are already six towns in Iloilo province that have been placed under the “red zone” ASF zoning classification, including the towns of Oton with 31 affected barangays, San Miguel (six affected barangays), Leganes (four affected barangays), and New Lucena (two affected barangays).

Out of the seven towns affected by ASF in the province, only Mina remains outside the red zone classification, as only one barangay was affected by ASF so far.

Iloilo Provincial Veterinarian Darel Tabuada also said that they can already start distributing financial assistance to hog raisers affected by ASF starting December 2022.

Tabuada added that they have already finished validating 10 barangays affected by ASF, and they continue to fast-track the validation to immediately disburse the cash assistance.

Defensor earlier said that the amount of cash aid to be received by the farmers would depend on the “graduated number of swine heads, whether sow, fattener or young swine”, while only one farm owner per farm should be recognized as beneficiary.

A cash aid amounting to P7,000 will be given to the farmer who had one to five hog heads that were depopulated or eliminated; P10,000 for six to 10 heads; P15,000 for 11 to 15 heads; P20,000 for 16 to 20 heads; P25,000 for 21 to 25 heads, and P30,000 for 26 heads and above.