34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

Marje Pelayo   •   July 19, 2019   •   5888

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

DFA: Filipinos in Hong Kong are safe, no need for evacuation at this time

Marje Pelayo   •   November 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assures kin of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Hong Kong that they are safe and remain unaffected by the ongoing public unrest in the southeastern Chinese territory.

The DFA issued a statement following false reports on the plight of Filipino workers and residents in Hong Kong that circulated on social media.

“The Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong is closely monitoring the situation and is taking every step to ensure the continued safety and well-being of our nationals there,” the DFA said.

The Department said those who wish to follow the impact of developments in Hong Kong on Filipinos there, are advised to visit the Consulate’s website for updates and advisories “instead of turning to questionable sources of information in the social media.”

In a live broadcast on Facebook, Consul General Raly Tejada allayed fears of families of OFWs living and working in the territory.

“Ang inyong mga mahal sa buhay dito sa Hong Kong ay safe naman po at nasa Mabuti pong kalagayan, (Your loved ones here in Hong Kong are safe),” Tejada said.

“Wala po kayong dapat ipagalala sapagkat ang Konsulado naman po dito ay nananatiling handa upang tumulong sa mga pangangailangan ng mga kababayan natin dito, (You have nothing to worry about because the Consulate is ready to provide them the necessary assistance),” he added.

Meanwhile, Tejada calls on all Filipino residents and workers in Hong Kong to always monitor the Consulate’s advisory through its official Facebook page and website where Philippine officials announce latest information regarding the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

They may also call the Philippine Consulate’s hotline number 91554023 for assistance as they are ready to respond, according to Tejada.

Filipinos who have work contracts in Hong Kong are assured that the territory’s international airport is functional and businesses runs as usual.

However, Consul General Tejada asked non-essential travelers to Hong Kong to defer their plans at this time for their safety.

“Kung pwede po ay ipagpaliban muna at pagisipan po muna natin bago po tayo tumuloy ng Hong Kong (You may opt to defer or reconsider before you travel to Hong Kong),” he said.

“Ang mga public transportation po dito ay naapektuhan po ng rally kaya hindi po dependable sa ngayon (All public transportation here are very much affected by the rally so they are not that dependable at this time),” he concluded.

Tunghayan ang mensahe ng ating Consul General Raly L. Tejada

Posted by Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong on Monday, 11 November 2019

70-year-old dies after being hit on head during Hong Kong clashes

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2019

Protesters prepare to clash with police near the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, in Hong Kong, China, 14 November 2019. Hong Kong is in its sixth month of mass protests, which were originally triggered by a now withdrawn extradition bill, and have since turned into a wider pro-democracy movement. EPA-EFE/MIGUEL CANDELA

HONG KONG – A cleaner subcontracted by the Hong Kong government died overnight after he was apparently struck on the head by a brick amid protest clashes on Nov. 13, authorities reported Friday.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) released a statement expressing “profound sadness” over the death of the outsourced cleaning service contractor on Thursday night.

The man was hit during his lunch break near North District Town Hall on Wednesday.

“We have requested the service contractor to follow up the labor insurance and compensation matters promptly,” said an FEHD spokesperson, according to the statement which added that the police would do everything to investigate the case and bring the “offenders to justice.”

Since the first day of the general strike on Monday, Hong Kong has witnessed a sharp rise in violence with demonstrations ending in clashes that have resulted in several people injured.

On Wednesday, two people were reported to be seriously injured — a 15-year-old who was hit on the head by a tear gas canister, and the now-deceased 70-year-old man who died Thursday night.

On Monday, a 21-year-old boy was shot by a traffic policeman and in a separate incident, a 57-year-old was set alight after a political argument.

The young man’s condition improved from critical to serious and has reportedly been arrested for unlawful assembly, whereas the man set alight remains critical with burns to 44 percent of his body.

On Nov. 8, a 22-year-old student died after being in a coma for several days after falling from the third to the second floor of a parking lot in a building situated near clashes between the police and protesters.

The circumstances around the death remain unclear.

Continued protests and clashes between demonstrators and riot police at several campuses of educational institutions in Hong Kong has led several universities to announce an early end to the semester on Thursday.

The demonstrations, which have drawn massive crowds since June following a contentious proposed extradition law, have turned into a movement seeking to improve democracy in the city-state and safeguard the region’s partial autonomy from Beijing.

Some demonstrators have opted for more radical tactics than peaceful civil disobedience and violent clashes with the police have been frequent. – EFE-EPA

hk-pem/sc/tw

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China lifts almost 5-year ban on import of US poultry

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2019

Chickens are seen in a barn at Todd Chapman’s poultry farm in Clermont, Georgia, USA. EPA/ERIK S. LESSER

BEIJING – China has lifted import restrictions on poultry products from the United States after nearly five years, according to the General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture.

In January 2015, China banned the import of chicken and poultry products from the US to protect itself from bird flu that had been recorded in some areas of America in 2013 and 2014.

According to a joint statement by the two Chinese bodies, the US took active and preventive measures following the bird flu outbreak, and that no fresh cases had been reported since March 2017.

A team of Chinese experts visited the US in July 2017 on Washington’s invitation to conduct on-the-spot assessments of measures against bird flu, the statement said.

In May 2018, the two countries held consultations on the subject, and after a full assessment, China considered the bird flu epidemic in the US to be effectively under control, and poultry regulation systems were compliant with Chinese legal requirements.

The statement said that following the lifting of US import restrictions, Chinese poultry imports would expand to effectively respond to market demands.

According to US trade authorities, the end of the import ban would result in the export of poultry products worth more than $1 billion to China annually.

Moreover, China has been facing a meat shortage following an outbreak of African swine fever, which has led to the culling of millions of pigs in the country, affecting the supply of pork, a preferred food item among the Chinese. – EFE-EPA

jg/sc/tw

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