ASF strikes 3 more Iloilo towns; 15 areas placed under ‘red zone’

By John Noel E. Herrera

Three more towns in Iloilo province were affected by African Swine Fever (ASF) after the Iloilo Provincial Veterinary Office (IPVO) confirmed that swine specimen samples from the municipalities of Estancia, Concepcion, and Pototan tested positive for the hog disease.

The capitol also placed 15 towns under the “red” or infected zone based on the ASF zoning classification.

IPVO head Dr. Darel Tabuada revealed that two samples from Barangay Santa Ana, Estancia, and one each from Brgy. Tamis-ac, Concepcion and Brgy. Iwa-Ilaya, Pototan tested positive for ASF.

Tabuada added that these new cases resulted in the culling of 52 swine heads from the three towns.

On Tuesday, Feb 7, 2023, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. issued Executive Order No. 001-C, placing the towns of Batad and San Dionisio in the red zone after two or more barangays from the said towns were infected with ASF

Data from IPVO indicated that three barangays in Batad (Bolhog, Poblacion, and Calangag) and four in San Dionisio (Poblacion, Nipa, Pangi, and Bagacay) reported ASF cases.

Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Administrative Order No. 52 mandated that a specific municipality would only be placed under the red zone if two or more barangays were already affected.

Currently, ASF has spread to 21 towns in the province, and 15 are in the red zone – Oton, San Miguel, Alimodian, Leganes, Santa Barbara, New Lucena, Mina, Barotac Nuevo, Barotac Viejo, Dumangas, Banate, Janiuay, San Dionisio, Batad, and Dingle.

Only the towns of Duenas, Concepcion, Pototan, Badiangan, Zarraga, and Estancia remain under the pink zone as only one barangay in these municipalities has cases so far.

Tabuada reiterated that the movement of live pigs, pork, pork products, and swine genetic materials in and out of the identified ‘red zone’ towns is prohibited.

The Iloilo Provincial Government also reminded red zone towns to strictly implement all safety measures, which include intensified monitoring, surveillance, investigation, and test and destroy operations within the area, to contain the spread of ASF.

Defensor earlier admitted that it is difficult to contain the spread of ASF knowing how contagious the virus is and that the province’s security measures are not fully implemented.

“Indi siya gid man mahapos punggan nga magwa sa borders, as it is very contagious. Ang aton nga measures again, hindi naton siya ma (implement) 100 percent. The execution of biosecurity measures indi ta ma 100 percent, although, of course, we try our best, that is why we don’t give up on checkpoints,” Defensor said.

The governor also stressed that the Capitol is preparing for a possible shortage of pork supply in the province as ASF continues to spread, and the affected towns are not yet in the recovery stage, wherein they can already start the repopulation of pigs.

“Taking it from this, that is why we met with the provincial price control council kay ang aton subong engkwentro not just against ASF, pati na ang supply. Naga-hana kita nga batu-an ang supply,” he said.

Meanwhile, the groundbreaking ceremony of a ‘Double A’ slaughterhouse in Oton, Iloilo was also held last week, which the governor described as one way to boost the livestock industry and help combat the spread of ASF in the province.

Defensor added that the abattoir is “very fundamental” in creating a value chain for pork products, as the ongoing ASF situation already taught the province the need to produce more pork products to ensure the sustainability of the swine industry and for the farmers to generate more income, especially when challenges, like ASF, happen.