BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR and JED MACAPAGAL
THE Department of Agriculture yesterday confirmed the presence of African swine fever (ASF) in Caloocan and Malabon cities but assured the public the situation can be addressed if everyone cooperates.
Reildrene Morales, head of the DA Crisis Management Team on ASF, said based on government’s latest assessment, there are no new cases in Rizal, Bulacan, and Pampanga and the last incursions were reported Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, and Cavite.
He said the cases in Caloocan and Malabon, which affected some backyard farms, were reported last month.
According to a report submitted by the Philippines to the World Animal Health Organization, the total number of towns and cities affected by ASF is 29, scattered in Pampanga, Metro Manila, Pangasinan, Rizal, and Bulacan.
The most notable addition is Barangay Deparo in Caloocan City and Barangay Baritan in Malabon City.
Affected barangays in Quezon City are Bagong Silangan, Roxas, Payatas, Tandang Sora, Tatalon, Commonwealth and Pasong Tamo.
In Pangasinan, two barangays in Mapandan and Bayambang are affected while in Rizal province, six barangays in Rodriguez as well as Cupang in Antipolo are already afflicted by ASF.
In Pampanga, barangays in the localities of San Luis, San Fernando City, Minalin, Apalit, San Simon, Angeles City, Porac, Bacolor and Candaba were affected.
Bulacan is the most infected province in the country with several barangays in the towns of Guiguinto, Plaridel, Bulakan, Pandi, Malolos, Calumpit, Baliuag, Hagonoy, Paombong, Pulilan, Bustos, San Rafael and Balagtas already affected with ASF.
Earlier, the Department of Agriculture said that it will soon implement zoning of hog products as an additional move to contain the spread of ASF in the country.
The agency explained that under the zoning plan, the whole of Visayas and Mindanao plus the island provinces in Mimaropa and Masbate will be declared free zones.
Luzon, where the cases of ASF were reported, will be considered s containment zone.
However, it will have protected zones like the regions of Cordillera, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, and Bicol while Central Luzon and Calabarzon will be considered as high risk zones.
Free zones can send pigs, meat, and products anywhere in the country but the infected zones will have limited market access and can trade only trade with fellow infected zones and the National Capital Region.
Morales said despite the incident in Caloocan and Malabon, the situation or level of spread of ASF in the country is “managed” and better compared to other countries affected by ASF.
He said that since August, or when ASF cases were confirmed, only 70,000 pigs of about 12.5 million pigs in the country have been culled, which he said is way below the hundreds of thousands pigs that had been culled in other countries.