Amid raps, DA chief asserts doing best to address ASF, prevent entry of contaminated meat

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 08 2021 12:44 PM

Video courtesy of PTV

MANILA— Agriculture Secretary William Dar on Saturday addressed questions on charges filed against him in the Office of the Ombudsman, saying his office is doing measures to strengthen border control and keep meat contaminated with the African swine fever (ASF) out of the country. 

Agriculture group Samahan ng Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) earlier this week filed a criminal complaint against Dar for the agency's supposedly slow action in placing border control against ASF-infected meat. 

Asked about the charges, Dar said the agency has been participating in ASF vaccine clinical trials and strengthening border control "continuously." 

"Simula’t sapul naman ay 'yung dating ginagawa ay we strengthen continuously 'yan like first border inspection, andiyan ang BOC at ng kawani ng BAI na titingnan, bubuklatin at ikokompara sa papeles kung tama ba 'yung manifest doon sa nakikita sa cargo," Dar said. 

(We have been strengthening our [borders] continuously like placing first border inspections. There is the Bureau of Customs and some personnel from the Bureau of Animal Industry who check and compare the papers to the manifest in the cargo being inspected.) 

He added that spot tests are also in place to check if the imported meat coming into the Philippines is infected with ASF. 

"Dadalhin yan sa pangalawang border inspection at dito na bubuklatin 100 percent ang parating at isang strengthening na ginagawa po natin ay mai-spot test na tayo kung mayroong African Swine Fever. So on top of what have been done before, pinapaigting natin ang spot checking kung may virus na ASF," Dar said. 

(We bring the meat to the second border, and here, they open it 100 percent. To strengthen this, we do a spot test to check if this meat has ASF. So on top of what we have been doing before, we also have spot checking procedures to check if the supply of meat coming in is ASF-infected.) 

SINAG chair Rosendo So earlier said the agency did not bother inspecting meat for ASF, a disease that has afflicted hogs in parts of the country, dramatically affecting pork supply in Luzon with prices going up to P350 to P400 per kilo. 

Dar said the DA was strengthening its first border examinations and continues to ban meat coming from countries with cases of ASF as part of its response to the disease. 

The DA has also banned imported meat from China, which has cases of a more serious ASF variant. 

However, Dar admitted that some smuggled meat have made it into Philippine shores, citing "porous" borders around the country.