African swine fever is failure of governance in agri sector: Pangilinan

MANILA — The scourge affecting the swine industry is failure of governance in the agriculture sector, Senator Francis Pangilinan said Friday, World Animal Day.

The former food security secretary said government mechanisms failed to enforce food safety protocols in contaminated frozen pork products smuggled in without benefit of inspection that is believed to have brought the virus to local farms.

“The problem with the African swine fever we have today is a result of government neglect,” Pangilinan said.

On the possibility that contaminated food scraps (swill) as another source of the disease, he said, “Government should be able to impart safe, proper, and effective pig-raising techniques to local farmers. It should be able to inspect pigpens for regular cleaning and disinfecting.”

On World Animal Day, celebrated annually on the feast day of Francis of Assissi, the patron of animals, Pangilinan called for proper care and treatment of animals, not just pets.

“Salamat sa ating mga alagang baboy dahil may pagkain sa ating mesa, pero kahit ganito ang kanilang papel sa ating mundo, hindi ibig sabihin na hindi na natin sila aalagaang mabuti (We should thank our pigs for the food on our table, but even if this is their role in life, it doesn’t mean that we should not care for them properly),” said Pangilinan, who himself raises hogs for sale.

“This planet is home to us as much as it is to animals. What happens to them affect us. Animals deserve our love and caring,” he added.

Pangilinan called on local governments to consult with veterinarians and specialists on the most humane way of culling infected pigs, and for proper handling of dead hogs, so as not to spread the disease.

Relatedly, the senator urged local government units to set aside funds for animals shelters in cities and municipalities that will house stray or abandoned pets.

He said there should also be funds for maintenance of these shelters, so that animals are kept clean, are well-fed, and vaccinated — to be ready for adoption.

Local government units should also have a regular vaccination program, as well as neutering and spaying of dogs and cats in barangay halls or centers accessible to the people. He said neutering and spaying will not only control their population, but also offer health benefits to the pets.