By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Philippines is now allowing the importation of pigs and their products from Japan as the Department of Agriculture (DA) ruled out the possibility of contracting the deadly pork disease African Swine Fever (ASF) from the East Asian island country.
In a memorandum, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol lifted the temporary ban on the importation of domestic and wild pigs and their products including pork meat, pig skin, and semen originating from Japan.
The lifting of the temporary ban was based on the evaluation of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), the risk of contamination of classical swine fever virus from importing pigs and pig products from Japan is now “negligible.”
Still, it noted that all import transactions of domestic and wild pigs including pork meat, pig skin and semen originating from Japan shall be in accordance with existing rules and regulations of the DA, Bureau of Animal Industry, and the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS).
Right now, the country is still on high alert as ASF hit Hong Kong, an autonomous territory located in southeastern China and is only more than a thousand kilometers from away from here.
Piñol said that quarantine officers of BAI have already been directed to institute stricter measures in monitoring the entry of meat products, especially pork from Hong Kong, following the reported outbreak of ASF there.
“Incoming passengers are warned that bringing in meat and other agricultural products without the necessary permit, especially those coming from ASF affected countries, could be slapped a fine of up to P200,000,” Piñol said.
“BAI quarantine officers are advised to be on high alert,” he further said.
No cases of ASF had been detected in the Philippines so far. But all the entry points in the Philippine have tightened security as early as last year to prevent the entry of the virus.
Data from BAI showed that the country’s local hog industry can raise 28 million heads every year with a combined value of around P240 billion.
Meanwhile, as the DA doubles its efforts to tighten security over the entry of fresh and processed meat into the country, the agency will also improve the monitoring of the possible illegal entry of fruits and plants.
Piñol said the DA’s Bureau of Plant Inustry (BPI) will be asked to submit a program on the deployment of K9 sniffers at the airports to check the illegal entry of agricultural products like fruits and planting materials.
“The use of the K9s in detecting meat and poultry products brought in by passengers will be institutionalized by the DA and will be implemented in all ports of entry of the country,” Piñol said. “We will expand it so it could also cover plants.”