Cebu foils smuggling of 37 live hogs from ASF-infected area

THIRTY-SEVEN live hogs from Esperanza, Masbate were slaughtered and then buried in Barangay Bancasan in the northern town of San Remigio, Cebu on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022.

The Provincial Veterinarian’s Office had ordered the police to hold the live hogs that were discovered on board a pumpboat around 3 a.m. that same day.

The owner of the pumpboat remains unidentified.

Dr. Mary Rose Vincoy said they had to dispose of the live hogs as these came from an African Swine Fever (ASF)-infected area.

To protect Cebu’s P11 billion hog industry, the Cebu Provincial Government under Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has imposed an “indefinite” ban on all pork and its related products from Luzon, Mindanao, Eastern Visayas and Panay Island where ASF cases have been reported.

“It was a good thing the matter was reported immediately. According to the initial report, the pigs came from Bantayan Island, but we thought that was unusual. So we asked for documents, but they couldn’t present any. At first, no one would tell us where the pigs came from. Finally, someone said the pumpboat had come from Masbate. Apparently, the pigs were loaded in Esperanza and then shipped directly to San Remigio,” Vincoy said in Cebuano.

Even though the pumpboat arrived at dawn, it was quickly spotted because of vigilant patrol along the town’s coast, she said.

“They thought they could successfully cross. But when the pigs were unloaded, the police were already there. We also informed the mayor’s office, and we had the affidavit finalized for the euthanasia. We were afraid that if we moved the pigs, even if they looked healthy, they would end up infecting our local pigs, which was what happened in Iloilo,” she said in Cebuano.

ASF causes fever and hemorrhage in pigs and those infected by the virus have only two to 10 days to live because there is no vaccine for it.

Although it does not infect humans, experts fear that if ASF spreads it will kill the hog industry and affect food security considering that pork accounts for most of the Filipinos’ meat consumption. (ANV / PJB)