LEGAZPI CITY—“Madadangog ko na naman an ugik kan orig pakatapos kan pirang bulan na dai akong ataman dahil sa ASF (Now I will be hearing again the squealing of a pig after months without raising one due to ASF),” related Rey Barcillano of barangay Hindi, Bacacay, Albay as DA-Bicol Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations Dr. Edgar R. Madrid handed him a piglet and a sack of starter feed during the Distribution of Sentinel Pigs as a prerequisite. for African Swine Fever (ASF) Free Declaration/Rehabilitation Program . The activity was held on September 30, 2021 at the Albay Park and Wildlife here.

A total of 170 ASF-affected swine raisers from nine municipalities which have already complied with the requirements and protocols prescribed by the Bureau of Animal Industry and the DA. These municipalities are. Pioduran, Polangui, Ligao City, Daraga, Tabaco, Malinao, Bacacay, Oas and Malilipot .According to Field Operations Division Chief Dr. Marygrace DP Rodriguez, DA-Bicol allocated Php1,445,000.00 for this rehab program to ensure the continuous swine production of backyard raisers in the province to increase pig population which was adversely affected with the outbreak of the African Swine Fever last year. This will subsequently stabilize pork supplies and prices in the province. The sentinel piglets were sourced out from BAI-accredited farms and had undergone PCR Tests.

Madrid said that the distribution of these animals was based on zero-reported case in the municipalities for at least 90 days. The sentinel protocol checks if a virus or disease is still present in the area. The repopulation of hogs can only be allowed if the pigs could survive and progress to maturity without any trace of ASF virus based on the close monitoring and laboratory results of blood samples. Each affected municipality was also provided with disinfection supplies.

Madrid added that the sentinelling and repopulation program in the province of Albay is part of the ‘Bantay ASF sa Barangay’ or BABay ASF program launched early this year. Based on the data presented by Albay Veterinary Office staff Dr. Manny Victorino, the first ASF case in the province was reported on September 22, 2020 in Pioduran and eventually spread to two cities, seven municipalities, 27 barangays, 23 index cases that resulted to 1,219 hogs depopulated which peaked in February 2021.“Yet, the situation improved because since March this year, there is no reported case in the province,” Victorino added. Aside from the piglets and starter feeds, ASF-affected farmers already received their indemnification assistance of Php5,000.00 for every culled swine at a maximum of 20 swine per farmer.

Farmer Santiago Salinas of Kilicao, Daraga, Albay shared that the indemnification assistance he received for his 20 culled pigs and gave him hope and helped him cope with the negative effects of the pandemic to his livelihood. “Tapos, yading makukuku ko na libreng orig sa Department of Agriculture, masasabi ko na blessing dahil magapon na naman ako sa pag-oorig. Dagdag sa income pa barang sa abot na mga panawn (And then, this swine dispersal from DA, I consider as a blessing because I will start again with swine raising as an added income in the coming years),” Salinas said. Rodriguez encouraged the beneficiaries “kung saan ka nadapa, doon ka din babangon, at kailangan sa pagbangon, we have to maintain and to strictly comply with biosecurity measures”. (jaysonmgonzales with photos by Raymond Adversario Jr. and Eduardo Collantes, Jr.)