Piñol blasts 'blame game' in African swine fever outbreak

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 24 2019 09:43 AM | Updated as of Sep 24 2019 12:25 PM

MANILA - Former Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol lambasted Tuesday his successor William Dar for allegedly engaging in a "blame game" over an outbreak of African swine fever that prompted the culling of some 7,000 pigs in the country. 

Dar claimed Monday that possible cases of the disease, which has no cure and vaccine, were reported as early as May, some 3 months before he took office and before the outbreak of African swine fever in parts of Rizal and Bulacan provinces. 

"Ewan ko bakit di sinasabi... August 5, wala pang incident report, pero marami nang feedback informally na mayroon nang obserbasyon ng mga nagkakasakit na baboy," he added in a DZMM interview. 

(I don't know why it was not revealed. Last August 5, there was no invident report yet, but there was informal feedback on observations of sick pigs.) 

Piñol, however, said the claim of ASF cases in May shows " an utter lack of knowledge of the characteristic of the virus."

The virus, he said, has an incubation period of 4 to 19 days and can decimate a hog population in 48 to 72 hours. 

"This means that if indeed the ASF was already present in the country in May, by August when Sec. Dar took over the DA, it should have already wiped out the hog population among backyard farmers in Central Luzon," he said in a Facebook post. 

Even if the virus entered the country during the transition period between Dar and Pinol's leadership, the latter said, "Engaging in a blame game will not do us any good." 

Dar, he said "should have prepared for the problems he expected to encounter before he assumed office", but "was more concerned with identifying 'Piñol's People' and dressing down officials in public." 

"Let me just remind them that some of those officials are Presidential Appointees who campaigned hard for the victory of President Duterte at the time Sec. Dar and his adviser, Rosendo So, were campaigning for another Presidential Candidate," said Piñol. 

"I do not know Sec. Dar's management style but I never embarrass my fellow workers in public but that is not my style," he added. 

Dar declined to comment on the issue.