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Canned pork seized from OFW positive for African Swine Fever virus

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019

Confiscated canned pork products that tested positive for African Swine Fever (ASF) virus | Courtesy : Secretary Manny Piñol’s Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol confirmed on Friday (June 12) that the canned pork products confiscated last March 25 at the Clark International Airport have tested positive for African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.

Piñol said that the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) reported the detection of the ASF virus from the confiscated canned pork products brought in by a returning overseas Filipino worker (OFW) from Hong Kong.

The Agriculture Chief cited a report by Dr. Rachel Azul of BAI’s Virulogy Section saying “the viral DNA was isolated in pork luncheon meat and was tested using the ASF Taqman PCR Asssay at the ADDRL,” a procedure validated by laboratories in the United Kingdom and is widely used in countries in Asia for detection of ASF virus.

Azul clarified, however, that the detection of the ASF virus in the confiscated canned pork does not change the Philippine’s status as an “African Swine Fever-free” nation.

“So far, no African swine fever infections have been reported in pigs in the country,” she said as posted by Secretary Piñol.

“The seizure is a warning for the industry and an acknowledgment of the catastrophic threat on our doorsteps. If introduced, ASF would have a significant impact on pig health and production and contribute to enormous economic losses,” she added.

In a separate post, Secretary Piñol defended the Bureau of Quarantine for imposing strict screening procedures at airports as preventive measure against the the entry of the deadly pig virus.

“Kung nakalusot po ito at naipakain sa mga alagang baboy ang tira-tira, maaring kumalat ang sakit sa ating mga babuyan at magiging sanhi ng pagkasira ng ating hog industry,” he said.

(If leftovers of these products were fed to our livestock, the virus could have spread and harm our hog industry.)

“Doon po sa mga nagsasabing nag-o-over react lang kami at nagrereklamo sa mga mahigpit na quarantine protocols, ito po ang patunay na meron talaga tayong kinakaharap na panganib,” he added.

(To those who are accusing us of over reacting and were complaining against strict quarantine protocols, this is the proof that there is really danger ahead of us.)

READ: Ban on pork, pork-based products from ASF-infected countries still in effect – DA

Piñol asked all returning Filipinos to yield to quarantine officers at the airport.

“Huwag na po tayong maging pilosopo at matigas ang ulo. Sumunod po tayo sa mga quarantine officers sa mga airport,” he appealed.

(Let us not argue and don’t be hard-headed. Let us just follow the quarantine officers at the airport.)

“Bawal na po magpasok ng mga delata at processed pork products sa bansa. Huhulihin po kayo at pagmumultahin,” he concluded.

(It is prohibited to bring canned and processed pork products into the country. You will be arrested and fined.)

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Murad approves of Piñol as Duterte’s ‘point man’ in BARMM

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, July 12th, 2019

Department of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed on Thursday (July 11) that Chief Minister Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has approved the transfer of Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol to head the Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA).

The agreement transpired during Murad’s meeting with the President on Wednesday (July 10).

The President vouched for Piñol as he said he needs someone to be his ‘point man’ in the region.

“(We are trying to) fine tune. The truth of the matter is I really transferred Piñol to assist them. Hindi naman to husbandry,” the President said.

“Wala akong point man doon na tagaroon, doon pinanganak, doon lumaki, farmer, became governor (I don’t have a point man there who was born and raised there, someone who’s a farmer and has served as governor),” he added.

“I’m sure he can help the BARMM and the government to fast track. I am most interested na makita na ng Moro people ang hinihingi nila (for the Moro people to see what they asked for),” Duterte explained, adding that aside from Murad, the other BARMM ministers also said ‘yes’ to the proposal. – with reports from Rosalie Coz

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Pork goods from Laos banned due to African Swine Fever

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Pigs are seen in a piggery at a village near Warsaw April 10, 2014. Poland has asked the European Union to intervene in a spat over Russia banning imports of Polish pork and says that the case could be taken up by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Russia suspended imports in February, citing concerns that cases of African swine fever among wild boars in Poland could spread to farmed pigs. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel (POLAND – Tags: ANIMALS HEALTH POLITICS BUSINESS)

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) added Laos to its list of countries where purchase and entry of pork goods to the Philippines are prohibited due to African Swine Fever (ASF).

Last month, the agency announced a temporary ban on the importation of pork goods from Laos, including domestic and wild pigs as well as pork products like pork meat, pig skin, and semen for insemination.

The ban was announced through a memorandum order issued on June 21, signed by Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

The memorandum also immediately suspends the evaluation and processing of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances for pork products coming from the said country.

Likewise, all DA veterinary quarantine officers and inspectors were also instructed to block and confiscate shipments of pork goods from Laos at all major ports.

READ: DA intensifies border control amid African Swine Fever scare

Furthermore, entry of pork goods to the Philippines from the following ASF-infected countries remains in effect:

  1. Belgium
  2. Bulgaria
  3. Cambodia
  4. China
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Hong Kong
  7. Hungary
  8. Laos
  9. Latvia
  10. Moldova
  11. Mongolia
  12. North Korea
  13. Poland
  14. Romania
  15. Russia
  16. South Africa
  17. Ukraine
  18. Vietnam
  19. Zambia

Despite the ban, the DA maintains that the Philippines remain ASF-free.

READ: Filipinos urged to buy local pork products amid fears of African Swine Fever

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Piñol has instituted a ‘roadmap’ for DA – Usec. Cayanan

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, June 28th, 2019

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – Secretary Manny Piñol continues to perform as head of the Department of Agriculture (DA) following his submission of his courtesy resignation to President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (June 27).

However, the Secretary prefers to work silently while waiting for the President’s decision on his request to be relieved and be transferred to a different Cabinet position.

READ: Piñol goes ‘less audio’ as DA chief after Duterte’s talkative’ remarks

While the President contemplates on moving Piñol to chair the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), the Agriculture Secretary has asked the President to pick his replacement from DA’s undersecretaries whom he believes would “ensure the continuity of the programs” that the agency has started and are now in the pipeline.

Piñol’s recommendation for the next DA chief includes current Undersecretary for Special Concerns and Legislative Liaison Officer Waldo Carpio; Undersecretary for Operations Ariel Cayanan; and Undersecretary-designate for Finance Francisco Villano.

“These officials are all competent and loyal to your ideals and advocacies. They are also familiar with the very important programs which are now in the pipeline whose implementation may be waylaid if the new head of DA would be an outsider,” the Secretary said in his letter.

Usec. Cayanan, for his part, said Secretary Piñol’s decision was unexpected.

Nevertheless, he is confident that the Department’s operations will run as planned because Piñol already laid a ‘roadmap’ for the next chief to work on.

“Ang maganda po ang ating departamento ay may mga road maps po tayo. (Our department already has a roadmap.) That, I think, (is) one of what we call accomplishments of the secretary’s administration,” Cayanan noted.

Among the challenges Secretary Piñol addressed in the DA were the outbreak of bird flu in Central Luzon in 2017 and the rice controversy in the country in 2018.

The Secretary opposed the enactment of the Rice Liberalization Law which lifted the quantitative import restriction on rice and removed the National Food Authority (NFA) regulatory functions.

The most recent was the Recto Bank incident that involved 22 Filipino fishermen allegedly hit by Chinese crewmen where President Duterte tasked Piñol to facilitate the offer of assistance to the affected fishermen. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

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