MANILA -- Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Tuesday he would ask traders to voluntarily refrain from importing pigs and processed pork products from countries hit by African swine fever (ASF).
The virus, which is fatal to pigs and wild boars, spread across half of China's provinces last year and was detected this week at a slaughterhouse along its border with Hong Kong.
"Ngayong araw na ito ka-meeting iyung mga meat importers and I will appeal to them na mag-impose ng self-limitation sa pag-angkat ng baboy at saka processed pork products sa mga ASF-affected at high-risk countries," Piñol told radio DZMM.
(I will meet with meat importers today and appeal to them to impose self-limitation on importing pigs and processed pork products from ASF-affected and high-risk countries.)
Piñol defines high-risk countries as those "contiguous" to countries with ASF like Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
"Since 5 months iyung ating surplus ng karne sa ating mga warehouses... we could actually enforce or impose, observe a self-enforced moratorium sa pag-angkat ng karne," he added.
(Since our surplus on pork in our warehouses could last for 5 months, we could actually enforce or impose, observe a self-enforced moratorium on importing meat.)
The ban "could be challenged by our trading partners" if it is imposed by the government instead of being a voluntary effort by traders, Piñol said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.
ASF is not dangerous to humans but is fatal to pigs and wild boar, and has no vaccine or cure.
The Food and Drug Administration continued issuing import permits for canned and processed pork from China despite a ban from the DA last year, Piñol said.
"Ito 'yong perfect example ng kakulangan ng koordinasyon ng government agencies," he told DZMM.
(This is a perfect example of the lack of coordination among government agencies.)
Piñol on Monday asked FDA to pull out from markets all processed pork products imported from countries hit by African swine fever since August 2018.
Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan, hog industry stakeholders and new FDA Director General Eric Domingo will meet Tuesday about the issue, he said.
With a report from Agence France-Presse