Davao Occidental gone ‘porkless’ due to ASF outbreak

MALITA, Davao Occidental (MindaNews / 5 Feb) –At the meat section of the public market here, stalls selling pork products are no longer operating due to the African Swine Fever outbreak in nearby Don Marcelino municipality, the ground zero of the highly contagious hemorrhagic virus in Mindanao.

A market-goer is disappointed after failing to find pork at the Malita Public Market in Davao Occidental on Tuesday (4 February 2020). Pork vendors stopped selling their meat since Sunday and the whole province of Davao Occidental has already declared a State of Calamity due to the presence of African Swine Fever that threatens the province’s swine population. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Mayor Bradly Bautista issued an order banning the slaughtering of pigs and the selling of pork products effective last Sunday, February 1, a copy of which was obtained by MindaNews on Wednesday morning following a visit to the public market here.

“Due to the suspected cases of ASF in Don Marcelino and the presence of suspected clinical cases for collection of samples for laboratory examination and validation of possible ASF in our area, all punong barangays (village chairpersons), swine raisers, traders and backyard owners are advised to refrain from implementing swine related movements, including the transport or slaughter of live pigs and the production and purchase of all pork products and by-products whether raw, processed or cooked,” Bautista said in the order.

Don Marcelino Mayor Michael Maruya confirmed that ASF caused the deaths of 2,956 pigs in his town as of Monday night.

Don Marcelino, Malita and Sta. Maria have already declared a state of calamity, which was the basis for the Davao Occidental provincial government to also issue such a declaration, said Harry Chester Camoro, chief of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.

Maruya said they already started depopulating the pigs as a measure to address the ASF outbreak in his town.

Mayor Jason John Joyce of Jose Abad Santos told MindaNews they implemented a lockdown on the transport of pigs and pork products hopefully to prevent the spread of the ASF virus in his locality.

Jose Abad Santos is a neighbor of Don Marcelino, the next town after the provincial capital of Malita coming from Davao City.

“We strictly prohibited the movement of swine from village to village,” Joyce said.

He said samples have been taken from pigs in his town but the results were not yet available as of Tuesday.

All passengers traveling to and out of Davao Occidental province have to go through disinfectant foot baths such as this one at a checkpoint entering Santa Maria, Davao Occidental on Tuesday (4 February 2020). MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

In his directive, Bautista ordered the village chairpersons to conduct a swine inventory in their jurisdictions to help the local government address the ASF virus.

MindaNews checked on some eateries patronized by ordinary people and found out that they no longer offer viands with pork ingredients due to lack of meat supply.

An eatery owner at the poblacion, who asked not to be identified, said they lost more or less P10,000 in daily sales since they stopped cooking pork products. On the average, he said, they buy 15 kilograms (kg) of pork meat daily for barbeque, five kg liempo or belly cuts and five more kg for other pork menus.

“That is a big loss considering we are just a small business enterprise,” he said in the vernacular. There’s no more pork meat supply in the markets since Sunday, he added.

A worker of another eatery said they anticipate the lack of pork meat to last for at least three months.

Raul Almondia, team leader of the Civil Security Unit assigned at the public market, told MindaNews that the pork meat traders have all complied with the order to stop selling pork and pork-related products.

“They obliged without resistance to help prevent the spread of the disease,” he said. Almondia said that five stalls have been given permits to sell pork products in the public market. Fish and chicken meat vendors continue to sell their products at the market.

In Don Marcelino, eateries also no longer serve pork dishes since the local government unit banned the slaughter and selling of pork products in the market. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)