Bureau of Animal Industry tightens ASF watch amid pandemic

DUMAGUETE CITY – The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in Negros Oriental is keeping a tight watch on sea vessels and aircraft arriving here to prevent the illegal entry of pork products that are still banned to prevent the spread of African swine fever (ASF). 

Dr. Alfonso Tundag, Quarantine Officer of BAI-Negros Oriental, in an interview Friday, said they have asked a shipping company that transports locally-stranded individuals and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), as well as essential cargo from Manila, to be on the lookout for smuggled shipment of pork meat and pork by-products by unscrupulous individuals taking advantage of the pandemic.

Tundag said in the past months, amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis, some enterprising people had succeeded in bringing in unnoticed several kilos of the banned products, such as chorizo de bilbao from Binondo, Manila.

Investigation showed that these meat products were carefully wrapped, sealed, and concealed among other cargoes such that they slipped unnoticed from the Manila port all the way to the city port, he said.

The Provincial Task Force on ASF, which includes representatives from the BAI and the Provincial Veterinary Office, acted on information they received and confiscated the smuggled items from consignees/sellers in Manjuyod, Sibulan, Bais City, Bayawan, and in this capital.

These were disposed of by burning and burying, Tundag said.

Monitoring and surveillance continue in the different wet markets, supermarkets, and similar food sales outlets and security is still tight at the different entry points like seaports and airports, he added.

So far, since the last incidents in July and August, no reports of illegal entry of pork meat and by-products have reached his office, Tundag said.

He said no cases were filed against the perpetrators although they were warned against selling the banned products. (PNA)