Agriculture department unaware of African swine fever in QC

April Rafales and Apples Jalandoni, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 15 2019 09:37 AM | Updated as of Sep 15 2019 02:54 PM

MANILA -- (UPDATE) The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Sunday said it was unaware that some of the pigs in Quezon City tested positive for African swine fever (ASF).

This, after Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte announced Saturday that ASF has infiltrated the city and that she has ordered the culling of pigs within a kilometer of areas where there are ASF infections.

“We’re asking our people kung sino ang nagsabi agad at hindi clinear sa akin. Even me I don't know yet na ASF positive," acting Agriculture Secretary William Dar told ABS-CBN News.

Dar said he would have preferred that they made the announcement after the confirmation through laboratory results and after they have employed the 1-7-10 protocol, where pigs within the 1-kilometer radius are culled and buried, while the movement of pigs within the 7-kilometer radius is controlled and there is active monitoring within the 10-kilometer radius.

The agency has held off the announcement of ASF in 7 areas in the provinces of Bulacan and Rizal a few weeks ago to give way to the 1-7-10 protocol. 

Dar confirmed that more areas in central Luzon are now under quarantine but he refused to name them. 

He said this was in order to avoid panic, especially since the presence of the disease in one area will affect the supply and demand of local pork meat and pork products.

“This is the time to have a unified response and management of this problem para we will have to properly handle and the public will not be alarmed," he said.

Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) director Ronnie Domingo said their investigation on the recovered dead pigs in a creek in Quezon City is not over yet as their primary focus right now is to dispose of them properly.

“Hindi pa po tapos ang imbestigasyon na ginagawa natin sapagkat ang konsentrasyon natin ay ma-retrieve itong mga bangkay ng baboy na lumutang at sila ay ma-dispose properly. Inoobserbahan ang pagtaas ng tubig sa creek dahil baka may lilitaw ulit,” he said.

Even if the recovered pigs in the creek are ASF-positive, he said they still have to trace where they came from as they could have been flown from municipalities in nearby provinces, which means they cannot say whether Quezon City is already infected with ASF.

However, he refused to say whether the pigs that died in Quezon City piggeries are ASF-positive and said the Agriculture chief will make the official announcement based on laboratory tests.

Dar, meanwhile, said he is investigating who among his staff released a statement of confirmation without his clearance.

Belmonte on Sunday declined to comment on her previous statement about the presence of the ASF in Quezon City.

The mayor held a closed-door meeting with chairman Wilfredo Cara of Barangay Silangan, where dead pigs were found in a creek last week. 

Quezon City veterinarian Dr. Anna Cabel also told the media that the details or the result of their investigation on the recovered pigs in Barangay Silangan will come from Belmonte when they're ready to be released.

The United States' Department of Agriculture Foreign Service in its Manila report said the Philippines has seen swill feeding as a major means of transmission.

It would continue to be of concern should the practice not be effectively prohibited, it said.

Moreover, there is a high concentration of commercial farms in central Luzon, raising the risk of ASF spreading throughout the major production area.