GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The city government has launched another mapping of the area’s entry points to completely seal off its borders from the entry of live hogs and pork products from localities affected by the African swine fever (ASF) outbreak.
Dr. Antonio Ephrem Marin, head of the City Veterinary Office, said Monday the move aims to protect the city from possible breaches by unscrupulous meat shippers and traders from nearby areas.
Marin said the city’s ASF task force is currently tracking access roads and other alternative entry routes in its borders.
He said mapping is an offshoot of the seizure by their personnel last week of at least 23 piglets coming from unauthorized areas in an alternative route leading to the city proper in Barangay Upper Labay.
The shipment, which did not carry proper permit and veterinary clearance, did not pass through the city’s veterinary quarantine checkpoint along the national highway in Barangay Katangawan.
“They’re using the access road as a shortcut to avoid our checkpoints. Our personnel were able to monitor and eventually intercepted it,” Marin said in a radio interview.
Barangay Upper Labay is situated at the city’s border with Malungon town in Sarangani province, which is close to localities in Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental provinces that were hit by the ASF outbreaks.
Sarangani earlier confirmed the emergence of ASF cases in several barangays in Glan town but has since been contained.
Marin said they have doubled the deployment of their personnel in the border checkpoints and other strategic areas to stop the entry of prohibited shipments.
He said they expect more attempts by unscrupulous traders to sneak in live hogs and pork products due to the usual high demand for “lechon” and food delicacies during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Marin said the city has a standing ban on the entry of live hogs and pork products from areas with cases of ASF, especially from the Davao region.
This was provided for in Executive Order (EO) 7 issued early this year by City Mayor Ronnel Rivera.
Under the EO, he said, all live hogs and pork products from unauthorized areas would be confiscated and subsequently destroyed.
Marin noted that they are working on strengthening such measure by converting it into an ordinance and setting corresponding fines and penalties to violators.
“We need to do this to keep our city ASF-free and protect our hog industry. Any biosecurity breach would be disastrous to our city,” he said.
The city’s hog industry is valued at PHP4 billion but its entire value chain could reach up to PHP30 billion.
Hog farms in the area produce 25,000 to 30,000 heads of live animals a month, with 15,000 to 20,000 being shipped to the markets in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.
The area’s commercial hog inventory is pegged at about 490,000 heads while those in backyard farms are estimated at 37,000 heads, making it among the top producers in the country. (PNA)