February 20, 2020

SAN AGUSTIN PILI, CAMARINES SUR – After almost 7 months of aggressive and sustained efforts by the Regional Quick Response Team (RQRT) FOR Animal Disease and Emergencies to prevent the incursion of this of this dreaded disease into Bicol region, the first positive case from barangay Sto. Domingo in Bombon, Camarines Sur was finally confirmed by Agriculture Secretary William Dar based on the result of the sample tested at the BAI laboratory in Quezon City.

In consonance with the “1-7-10” radius control protocol, immediately after the declaration of the ASF infected premises, DA regional Executive Director Tornilla has now declared a 1-km radius from the site of infection or ground zero to be the quarantine area. Culling out or depopulation of all swine within the identified radius will now commence. Director Tornilla in a meeting with Mayor Luisa D.C. Angeles and other local officials assured that affected animal owners will be given an indemnification of P5,000 per head. But only a maximum of 20 heads per farmer will be granted. Suckling piglets are not included in the indemnification.

Moreover, the area has already been locked down, wherein there transport and sale of hogs, pork and processed pork and by products from the municipality is prohibited. Within seven- kilometer radius from infected site, hogs would be under surveillance with restricted movements, and blood testing would be done. For the 10-kilometer radius from ground zero, mandatory monitoring and reporting of swine disease occurrences shall be implemented. 

The death of 2 pigs in the barangay was reported to the DA regional Office on February 10 and immediately the RQRT monitoring and surveillance team went to the site and took blood samples and sent it to the Animal Disease Diagnostic Reference Laboratory in Quezon City. The farm was closely monitored and even prior to the release of the laboratory tests when subsequent deaths of hogs in the area were noted Dir. Tornilla alerted the LGU and requested Mayor Angeles to instruct the PNP to assist the RQRT in setting up and manning a checkpoint to prevent the movement of pigs from Bombon to neighboring areas. The adjacent town of Calabanga was likewise alerted and advised to set a checkpoint to restrict the entry of live pigs from Bombon.

Since the first reported outbreak of ASF July last year, the Bicol Regional Quick Response Team has been activated and has been aggressively implementing the directives issued by DA Secretary William Dar. The Regional Quick Response Team on ASF is composed of composite group headed by DA Regional Executive Director Rodel P. Tornilla and include the Bureau of Animal Industry in the region headed by Dr. Emmanuel Villafuerte, Regional Veterinary Quarantine Officer of BAI; the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS ) headed Regional Director Alex Templonuevo; Dr. Edgar R. Madrid, Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations; the Chief of DA’s Livestock Program, Dr. Maris Guillermo; the chief of the Integrated Laboratories Division; chief of Regulatory Division Rosita Imperial and Dr. Josefina Banadera; RADDL Chief Dr. Rona Bernales; and other technical and support staff of the DA.

With the approval and full implementation of the National Zoning and Movement Plan for the Prevention and Control of ASF last Feb 2020, the RQRT vigorously conducted monitoring and surveillance of pork meat and meat products being brought illegally into the region through public utility vehicles like buses and other conveyances. The team in tandem with the PNP and the provincial and city veterinarians was able to confiscate a total of 8,307 kilograms of meat and meat products amounting to approximately P1.7 million without proper permit and veterinary certificates mostly coming from ASF infected zones. These inspected goods were automatically disposed of in the designated disposal pit even as the RQRT team continually receive threats and harassments and have to endure bullying and insults from the owners of the goods. These illegally transported meat and products from recalcitrant traders are the biggest deterrent keeping Bicol ASF Free. (Emily B. Bordado)