As the dreaded African swine fever (ASF) has already affected at least a thousand pigs in Davao Occidental, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Sunday said the “economic time bomb” he warned about during a House probe “is now becoming true due to the ‘under control’ attitude of our officials.”
Samples drawn from around 1,000 dead pigs in Don Marcelino town, Davao Occidental by the Department of Agriculture Region IX and Provincial Veterinarian Office tested positive for ASF, the first confirmed cases of the hog disease in Mindanao since the disease hit the swine industry last year.
“The ASF outbreak indeed continued to spread because of the agriculture officials ‘under control’ attitude,” said the Makabayan lawmaker.
“What they did was to control the flow of information on ASF that would reach the public rather than strictly monitor and control the spread of the sources of the disease, locally and internationally,” Zarate said.
“But more importantly, among others, they should have already totally banned these meat and processed meat products from ASF- contaminated countries months ago,” said the progressive solon.
“This ticking economic devastating time-bomb is about to explode, yet, it appears the agriculture officials and even some industry players would rather downplay the catastrophic effects of this problem,” Zarate said.
During the October 2, 2019 House Committee on Agriculture hearing, he pointed out that the DA “should also strictly monitor and ban the importation of ‘feed meal’ from ASF countries, particularly from China and Eastern Europe.”
“Yet, it seems the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has allowed still the continuous importation of meat and bone meal, meat meal, blood meal, blood plasma into the country and their unregulated use in animal feeds,” Zarate said.