ASF WATCH: 38,000 kilos of meat seized from WV airports, seaports

A meat vendor at the Iloilo Terminal Market gamely poses for a photo. (Photo by Emme Rose Santiagudo)

By Emme Rose Santiagudo 

While the African Swine Fever (ASF) has reached Mindanao, even infecting thousands of pigs in the Davao Region, it is still a mystery and a blessing how Western Visayas was spared from the highly contagious hog disease.

Now, hog stakeholders and government agencies are not taking any chances in putting at risk the multibillion peso hog industry of Western Visayas.

Since January 2019, authorities have confiscated and disposed of a total of 38,253 kilograms of meat commodities from seaports and airports in Western Visayas as part of the efforts to keep the region ASF-free, according to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

BAI Regional Veterinary Quarantine Officer, Dr. John Rhoel Hilario reported that 36,162 kg of pork and pork by-products were prevented from entering the region and were re-shipped.

In terms of live animals, Hilario said they were able to confiscate nine heads and reshipped 37 heads.



Following the outbreak of ASF in Davao Region, Hilario said they are strictly monitoring the four “highly critical” seaports and international airports in WV.

“We consider the two international airports in the region particularly the Iloilo International Airport in Cabatuan, Iloilo and Kalibo International Airport in Aklan as highly critical areas because of the international flights. The two seaports, the Caticlan Jetty Port in Aklan and the Dumangas Port in Iloilo are also critical areas,” he told Daily Guardian on Sunday.

Hilario said the temporary cessation of flights from China and its administrative regions due to the novel coronavirus outbreak was helpful in a way that it paralyzed the entry of meat commodities from China which is also the ground zero of ASF.

“Our international airports are also at risk of the ASF but the good side of the novel coronavirus outbreak is right now, the flights coming from China and Hong Kong have stopped,” he said.

Despite this, Hilario said they are still undergoing strict screening of meat commodities and live animals in the entry points in the region.



According to Hilario, they are conducting two modes of screening in the seaports and airports.

“When screening we do physical and documentary inspection of the pork products and by-products,” he said.

The live pigs in unhealthy conditions and showing signs of sickness will not be allowed to be transported in the region, Hilario reiterated.

Meanwhile, those transporting meat commodities will be required to comply with documentary requirements before entering the region.

For locally produced meat products and imported meat commodities, Hilario said a permit from the BAI and meat inspection certificate will be required from the handlers and owners.

Whereas, those transporting processed meat products will be required to secure a permit from BAI, license to operate, and a certificate from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Owners transporting fully-cooked processed meat will have to secure a license to operate and receive a certificate of production registration.

Meanwhile, those transporting live pigs are required to have a veterinary health certificate, handler’s license, and transport carrier registration should they use their vehicle.

Hilario appealed to other agencies including the local government units (LGUs) in the region to help in keeping the region ASF-free.

“We need the help of other agencies to protect free areas, we are coordinating with other agencies the airports and seaports to screen the live animals, going in and going out of the region,” he said.

He urged LGUs to strengthen their local ordinances and create checkpoints in their localities to prevent the entry of ASF.

“The LGUs should continue strengthening their local ordinances and creating checkpoints so that they can further add protection in their hog and animal industry,” he said.

Recently, the Iloilo City government has expanded its ban on pork and by-products by including Region 11 or Davao Region following the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in the two towns of Davao Occidental.

Both the provinces of Aklan and Negros Occidental already amended its executive orders on banning pork and pork products to include those from Mindanao, particularly Davao Region, according to the Department of Agriculture (DA)-6.