ASF contained to 0.3% of barangays nationwide, DA says

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said Tuesday that the 137 barangays where African Swine Fever (ASF) has been detected represent a tiny percentage of the national total.

“If you’re looking at the effects of ASF nationwide, we are looking at 137 barangays… only 0.3% of the total,” DA Deputy Spokesperson Rex C. Estoperez said in a briefing.

About 25% of the 81 provinces have outbreaks, though he added that presenting the outbreak data by barangay presents a “more realistic” picture.

Mr. Estoperez reiterated that the Bureau of Animal Industry’s (BAI) protocols are based on the guidelines set by the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), after Cebu province pushed back on the cull policy, citing its authority under the Local Government Code.

The first ASF outbreak in the Philippines was detected in 2019.

BAI responds to outbreaks by culling all swine within a 500-meter radius to control the spread of the disease.

Mr. Estoperez called for the cooperation of local government units (LGU) pending availability of vaccines for the disease, which are still undergoing clinical trials.

“We are committing all our resources, especially in the regions where we will have the support of local government units to prevent the spread of this virus,” he said.

In a statement Tuesday, Camarines Norte Rep. Luis Raymund F. Villafuerte called for a state of calamity declaration in ASF-affected areas.

Calamity declarations enable the government to move more quickly on funding emergency measures.

He called for the deployment of money from the contingency fund, and asked that budget planning for the succeeding General Appropriations Acts allow for fast-tracking vaccines.

Mr. Villafuerte noted the need for the BAI to step up because the continued presence of the disease could lead to pork shortages, a spike in inflation, and rising imports.

Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) Executive Director Jayson H. Cainglet said that hog losses this year due to ASF have been valued by the industry at at least P10 billion.

Mr. Cainglet said via Viber that the farmgate price of pork has been between P190 and P220 per kilo, with retail prices at around P400 per kilo.

According to DA monitoring reports Tuesday, markets in Metro Manila sold pork belly (liempo) at retail for between P340 andP420 while pork shoulder (kasim) was priced at between P310 and P350. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera