MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agriculture (DA) is set to conduct an investigation that will trace how the African Swine Fever (ASF) reached the province of Davao Occidental.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that Davao Occidental is an isolated location and it seemed very unlikely that the deadly swine disease could reach the province.
“If you know Davao Occidental, it’s such in an isolated coastal area. You cannot understand why the virus proceeded there […] So the theories are being investigated,” Dar said.
From the swine population of 13,000 in the town of Don Marcelino, 1,000 have either died or were slaughtered due to the disease.
Dar said the provincial government will buy the rest of the swine that are not yet affected by the virus to prevent it from spreading further.
Aside from Don Marcelino, the DA is also monitoring the nearby town of Malita.
“Kung hindi maganda ang pagka depopulate, the chances of the virus escaping from that ground zero to new outbreak areas within Don Marcelino will be there,” the DA chief said.
According to the DA, around 200,000 pigs had either died or had been killed due to the spread of the ASF in Luzon.
The DA admitted that the ASF was not completely stopped and this is because of pork smuggling, procurement of infected pigs by traders, and failure to report about infected pigs to authorities.
“Ang Pilipino masyadong smart. Mag-declare ng iba’t-ibang product hindi naman pala tomato paste or vermicelli. That’s the trend, it continues up until today. Nasa loob-looban yung karneng baboy, pork products and the like,” Dar said.
To assist hog-raisers in Don Marcelino which is now placed under a state of calamity, the DA said it will pay up to P5,000 per pig within the 1-kilometer radius from the area where the ASF was discovered.
A loan of P30,000 per hog raiser is also available to help them recover from their loss. —(from the report of Rey Pelayo) /mbmf