DA-6 ordered to test pig farms amid ASF scare in Iloilo

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. leads a meeting with Cabinet and local officials in Bacolod City on Sunday where they discussed, among other issues, the African Swine Fever in Iloilo. (Malacañang photo)

By John Noel E. Herrera

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has tasked the Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas (DA-6) to test all pig farms and breeding sites for African Swine Fever (ASF) to contain the spread of the hog disease in the region.

A press release from Malacañang stated that the directive came after DA-6 reported during a situation briefing in Bacolod City that cases of ASF had been reported in the region, particularly in Iloilo province.

Marcos said testing the pig farms for ASF is one of the effective ways to avoid the spread of infection.

Marcos, who also currently heads the DA, assured during the briefing that all measures to prevent its spread were already in place, including the banning of pork products from affected areas.

He also ordered a ban on all pigs and pork products from Panay Island for 60 days during his meeting with the agriculture cluster of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) on Oct 21, 2022.

Western Visayas recorded its first case of ASF in Oton, Iloilo nearly two weeks ago.

After the first ASF case broke out in Iloilo, which is considered as the 4th top hog-producing province in the country, cities and other provinces in Western Visayas have already started to implement border controls.

The total number of confirmed cases of ASF in Oton, Iloilo increased to 122, while affected barangays have already reached 23, including Bita Norte (Index Barangay), Cabolo-an Norte, Cabolo-an Sur, Sta. Monica, Bita Sur, Abilay Norte, Galang, Tagbak Norte, Buray, Sta. Rita, San Antonio, Poblacion South, Pakiad, Poblacion West, Mambog, Batuan Ilaya, Sta. Clara, Sambaludan, Calam-isan, Cadingli-an, Salngan, Batuan Ilaud, and Botong.

Data also indicated that as of Oct 20, almost 400 hogs have already been depopulated within the one-kilometer radius from the index area.

The town of Oton has already been placed under a state of calamity on Oct 21 upon the recommendation of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC).

“We declare a state of calamity kay naabot na ang 15 percent nga forecast nga affected sang ASF,” Oton Vice Mayor Jose Neil Olivares said in a phone interview.

Aside from Oton, the town of San Migule in Iloilo province also declared a state of calamity on Monday, Oct 24, 2022, following the confirmation of Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. that one barangay in the said town has a confirmed case of ASF.

Defensor, however, clarified, that they are still waiting for the official document, stating that the town is already placed under a state of calamity.

With the declaration of a state of calamity, the local government of Oton and San Miguel can now access its Quick Response Fund (QRF) to address the concerns regarding ASF.

Meanwhile, the Iloilo Provincial Government earlier issued Executive Order No. 460 implementing “Quarantine Procedures and Disease Preventions and Control Measures Against African Swine Fever.”

Through the EO, the provincial government has already implemented zoning classifications with corresponding colors based on DA Administrative Circular No. 2 to strengthen the containment measures against ASF.

The town of Oton, where the province’s first ASF case was detected, was placed under the Infected Zone (Red), while the town of San Miguel, where a case of ASF was also just detected, was earlier placed under the Buffer Zone (Pink).

The provincial government also created a Local ASF Task Force to assist the affected areas and intensify the implementation of the issuances stated in the EO, such as monitoring, surveillance, investigations, and operations of conducting the test and destroy protocols.