The Iloilo-Bacolod Association of Veterinary Sales Representatives met Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. Monday to suggest a three-month total ban on the entry of pigs and pork products from Luzon into Iloilo province. 

Defensor issued an executive order on September 19 banning swine, pork, pork products, and by-products from areas confirmed by the Department of Agriculture (DA) as positive for African swine fever (ASF) contamination. 

Rizal and Bulacan provinces in Luzon have been declared as having an ASF outbreak.

Other countries are also recorded with ASF outbreak, such as Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Luxembourg, Belgium, Bulgaria, Moldova, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, South Korea, and China.

However, the local government-imposed ban was selective, as revealed by John Sy, the group’s spokesperson.

“The problem there is it can be transported from an infected area to (an) uninfected area and can be transported to Visayas and Mindanao, and if we do not close our borders in Panay, we can be a transshipment point to the rest of Visayas and Mindanao. What we are looking forward is we can also close Panay through Iloilo,” Sy said.

Cebu, Aklan, and Mindanao had been observing the total ban, he added.

Backyard hog raising was being practiced in Bulacan, where the disease is prevalent. About 89 percent in Panay observe the same practice, as revealed by Sy.

“We are just here, as much as we can, (to) protect that industry. Our production here is sufficient for our requirement for the demand, especially in Panay and the whole Western Visayas. Since Luzon is already infected, we just want that Visayas and Mindanao remain to be ASF-free,” Sy said.

Sy further discussed that Defensor had guaranteed the group that he would study their proposal.

“He is willing to help on our request, but he needs to have bases,” Sy added. 

Iloilo’s provincial government formed the Iloilo Provincial African Swine Fever Task Force on September 4, which aims to gather data on swine, enhance biosecurity practices in all ports of entry, conduct initial disease investigation, and institute outbreak control protocols in case of a suspected ASF case, and impose immediate closure of a farm confirmed with ASF, among others.

The ASF is a highly transmittable hemorrhagic disease of swine that is triggered by a virus, which cannot be treated or prevented as there is no vaccine against it.  (RJ Espartinez)