GenSan to establish more checkpoints to control spread of African swine fever

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 Feb) – The city government is planning to establish additional animal quarantine checkpoints in its border areas in the wake of the continuing threats posed by the spread of the African swine fever (ASF).

This, as the City Veterinary Office (CVO) raised alarm on Tuesday over the increasing attempts by unscrupulous traders to sneak in processed pork products and even live hogs from areas with confirmed outbreaks of the animal disease.

Dr. Antonio Ephrem Marin, CVO chief, said they already confiscated since Jan. 1 a total of 583.5 kilos of fresh, processed and cooked pork products in the five checkpoints along its border highways.

He said this comprised 282 kilos of fresh pork; 270.5 kilos of processed pork such as chorizo, tocino and chicharon; and 31 kilos of pork lechon.

CVO personnel also stopped the entry of 13 live hogs that reportedly originated from localities in nearby Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental provinces that have reported cases of ASF, he said.

Marin said they monitored attempts by some traders to deliver banned pork products into the city through alternate access roads in the border barangays.

“We found out that there are actually a lot of roads that they can use to get into the city. They can bypass the major highways by passing through several barangay access roads,” he said in a radio interview.

From Polomolok town in South Cotabato, he said traders can enter the city by passing through the barangay roads connecting Barangays Mabuhay and Sinawal here.

He said that from Sarangani, they found an access road passing Sitio Lamcanal in Barangay Malandag in Malungon town and a banana plantation that eventually exits in Barangay Upper Labay here.

Marin said they are working on a proposal to Mayor Ronnel Rivera for the establishment of additional animal quarantine checkpoints in these areas “to totally seal off” the city.

He said they will need to hire an additional 15 to 20 personnel for the operationalization of the proposed checkpoints and the expansion of their monitoring and surveillance activities against the ASF.

As of Tuesday, the CVO has 58 personnel assigned in its five major checkpoints situated in the highways in Barangays Tinagacan, Buayan, Mabuhay, Bawing and Apopong.

The city government has allotted P8.2 million for the implementation this year of its expanded ASF control and prevention program.

Marin said P4 million was set aside for the salaries of personnel assigned in the checkpoints and P1.68 million for the drugs, medicine and disinfectants.

The rest of the funds are earmarked for the capital outlay, specifically the purchase of sprayers and other necessary equipment, as well as other operational expenses, he said.

This city and nearby South Cotabato province, which remains under the “green zone” or ASF-areas, are currently considered as the country’s top pork producer.

The area earlier committed to ship some 10,000 heads of live hogs and pork carcass per week or 40,000 a month to Metro Manila to help ease the continuing supply shortage, which had been blamed on the ASF outbreak in parts of Luzon. (MindaNews)