Province slowly adjusting to ASF, guv says

A resident of San Miguel, Iloilo roasts a pig, popularly known as lechon, amid the presence of the African Swine Fever in the province. (F.A. Angelo)

By John Noel E. Herrera

Iloilo is slowly adjusting its approaches and responses to the African Swine Fever (ASF) ever since the province recorded its first confirmed case in Oton town, according to Governor Arthur Defensor Jr.

“Right now, our people are not panicking anymore. The practical situation is that, sa akon observation sa raw reports, I think the province is slowly adjusting, ang treatment is daw parehos lang bala sang iban nga masakit nga nag-agi sa aton, we make protocols, we inform people,” Defensor said in a press conference on Dec 22, 2022.

Defensor also noted that local leaders already knew how to deal with ASF, as they were guided by different preventive measures and the ASF zoning classification.

“Ara kita gihapon sa present naton nga mapa, interms of the red and the pink, we continue to execute protocols, we continue to monitor kung paano siya mag-develop sa iban nga parte sang probinsya,” Defensor added.

The governor also cited the province’s existing executive orders which strengthened the campaign to contain the spread of ASF, as they are focused on the biosecurity measures of hog raisers, especially the backyard hog farmers.

Last week, Defensor issued EO No. 605, establishing minimum biosecurity standards for ASF through the TaHuM (Tapak, Hugas, kag Matinlo nga Pagpakaon) campaign.

Through the campaign, the province will also conduct an intensified information and education drive, and biosecurity measure trainings.

“If we do this, we can strengthen our backyard farmers because 80 percent sang aton nga pork industry are backyard raisers. This is not the solution to the problem pero makabulig ini sang risgu naton moving forward,” Defensor said.

Aside from the TaHuM campaign, Defensor added that the Pork Festival Kontra ASF (EO No. 545) is another measure towards the recovery of ASF-infected areas in the province as it allows towns to innovate events related to ASF awareness, pork processing lectures, and to “stimulate the consumption so that we eventually recover and repopulate.”

Section 5 of the EO also stated that in order to lower the status of areas tagged as ‘red zone’, they should complete a rest period for three months, which includes cleaning and disinfection within 30 days; downtime and bioassay within 20 days, and sentinel animals for 40 days.

“We will survey kung nag negative na ang mga barangays or areas nga may ara cases and we continue to execute the protocols, like pwede na bala sila ka repopulate because that is a recovery measure for the province, and we strengthen the farmers and adjust our behaviours,” Defensor said.

Meanwhile, the Iloilo Provincial Veterinary Office (IPVO) has already started distributing cash assistance to ASF-affected farmers in the province, which was taken from the approved P40 million supplemental budget of the provincial government.

IPVO head Dr. Darel Tabuada earlier said that a total of 192 affected hog raisers in Oton, Iloilo is expected to receive their cash aid as Oton Mayor Sofronio L. Fusin Jr., already received the check worth P1,646,000 from the provincial government on Dec 16.

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 farmers who had one to five hog heads that were depopulated; 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.

To date, there are already eight towns in the province with confirmed cases of ASF, which include the towns of Oton, San Miguel, Leganes, Santa Barbara, Mina, New Lucena, Alimodian, and Barotac Nuevo.

Aside from Iloilo province, the island of Guimaras and Iloilo City are also affected by the said hog disease in Western Visayas.