Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri urged Malacañang to call on Balik-Scientists, veterans to face off African Swine Fever or ASF in the Philippines.
“We have to save the livelihood of our hog raisers, both large-scale and backyard; especially the backyard hog raisers. For many years, we have had the lowest hoof and mouth disease. We controlled Avian Flu and it failed to decimate our poultry industry. We are one of the preferred sources of pork and poultry by countries that had high standards like Japan,” the senator from Mindanao said.
“That’s why I’m aghast at how ASF is destroying our hog raisers. Together with the Agriculture Committee chaired by Sen. Villar, I have warned that the importation of pork meat, offals, and processed products should stop. Evidently, the concerned agencies were powerless against importers added to smugglers who cared for nothing else but their profits. I understand that our porous borders opened our hog raisers to attack with imports driving down farmgate prices. Now we witness how they’re succumbing to mandatory culling; meaning they lose present stock and need a lot of capital to restart,” Zubiri added.
Senator Zubiri said that since the African Swine Fever is already here decimating the industry, he hopes Malacañang calls back as many Filipino scientists and veterinarians as possible back to the country. Many of them, according to Zubiri, occupy high positions in the World Organization for Animal Health and the Food and Agriculture Office of the United Nations.
“I also recognize the various task forces organized by Agricuture Sec. William Dar who is assisted by the private sector. Still, we have to more than double our manpower, equipment and financial resources to address ASF until the whole of the Philippines is declared ASF- free.”
“Pork-eating Filipinos should feel safe eating pork without the lingering fear that they’re eating diseased meat. Our hog raisers should regain their lost livelihoods from Benguet to Davao as all our islands register ASF infection,” he said.
Zubiri, who studied Agri-business and holds a Master’s Degree in Environment and Natural Resources from the University of the Philippines, counts Bukidnon as his hometown. Bukidnon is considered the food basket of Mindanao.
According to the National Meat Inspection Service, ASF is a highly contagious viral disease that affects pigs, warthogs, and boars. Infected pigs can die in a span of 2 to 10 days. Although it isn’t considered a health threat against humans, humans can become carriers of the African Swine Fever virus.