By Rey Anthony Chiu, PIA- Bohol/05:49 PM August 24, 2019
You can’t freeze on the trigger.
Bohol Governor Arthur Yap said when he first came up with an executive order imposing a temporary ban on the importation of live pigs, pork, and pork-related processed products in a bid to keep Bohol African Swine Fever (ASF)-free.
Not really wanting to tarry on it, Yap immediately issued Executive Order (EO) No. 7, dated August 20, mandating the ban on the entry of live pigs, pork in meat and its processed form for the next 100 days.
The ban however is only for those live pigs and meat that enter Bohol without accompanying veterinary health clearances and National Meat Inspection Service tags, along with proper shipping clearances.
“For live pigs, only those with a veterinary health certificate and a shipping permit issued by the Bureau of Animal Industry’s Quarantine Services will be allowed entry,” he stressed.
“For pork and pork-related products, these must have a certificate of meat inspection from the National Meat Inspection Service,” he added during the meeting.
The governor, whom flew in to Bohol prior to an ASF Executive Council Meeting Saturday at the Café Caloy, shared that the DA secretary joked about Tap’s jumping the gun on the national agriculture secretary over the ASF.
Yap, who was former agriculture secretary, said he just can not wait for the DA to issue directives when the ASF, although harmless to humans, has the potential to wipe the local livestock industry.
“You can’t freeze the hand on the trigger, the governor stressed over the urgency of the hog viral disease that can be passed on even when the cooked is meat.
The ASF virus is often introduced into a local herd by feeding uncooked or undercooked contaminated pork products.
Although harmless to humans, ASF causes severe illness and high death rates in all ages of pigs and is noted with 100% mortality in several areas where the virus has been found.
The virus is then easily spread between pigs by direct contact with an infected animal, its body fluids (nasal, oral, feces, blood) or tissues (meat), or indirectly from contact with contaminated objects (fomites), such as vehicles, equipment, footwear or clothing, according to an Executive Council briefing by Bohol veterinarian Stella Marie Lapiz, during a meeting Saturday.
Alarmed, the governor who is also keen in protecting the local industry, wanted persons arriving at ports in Bohol “voluntarily disposing” of any pork product, in case they carried some of it.
Upon the governor’s order, PVet Lapiz appraised the governor of the setting up of “disposal bins” in ports and airports for of pork products.
With the ban, Bohol has looked at its porous boundaries as possible areas where people might unknowingly bring in pigs, or pork in any form.
Bohol has 12 ports of entry, but according to the veterinarian, the province has only 3 quarantine inspectors. Dr. Lapiz proposed an additional 16 more inspectors to man the 12 ports.
The Provincial Government is willing to augment, he assured the overly undermanned veterinary office, who has to rely on its network of barangay livestock aides to bring down their messages to the communities.
As the governor’s executive order came, Yap, who flew in to Bohol noticed no such measures set in place at the airport.
“When you go out of the airport, there must be somebody to announce and in the baggage carousel areas, somebody must be there to see if that there is nothing in the arriving baggage,” the governor instructed.
He also wants to see the installation of signage, disposal bins, even as the committee agreed on the disposal protocols to assure that everything has to undergo thermal treatment to kill the virus and to isolate it.
On the need for more community awareness, the governor was reported to issue a memorandum “to concerned Bohol mayors to help assign personnel to assist in the port quarantine efforts.”
Bohol health consultant Dr. Cesar Tomas Lopez, who sits at the Provincial Health Office, also assured that the government’s sanitary inspectors are also helping out in the monitoring and surveillance to stop the possible entry of the virus that could put to waste Bohol’s billion peso livestock industry.