Group threatens to sue gov't as report shows pork products tested positive for African Swine Fever

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 24) — An agriculture group has threatened to file charges against government agencies for allegedly failing to test imported pork and processed meat products for the African Swine Fever virus.

The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) made this statement in letters sent to the Departments of Agriculture, Health, and the Bureau of Customs on Wednesday.

"We will not hesitate to file appropriate charges with the Ombudsman and other appropriate courts against those that have been remiss in ensuring the full implementation of the Quarantine First Policy," SINAG Chairman Resendo So said.

SINAG said all pork and pork-based products imported in the country "have never been subjected to any ASF testing at the first port of entry," as mandated by law.

The group also provided a copy of a clinical laboratory report from the Bureau of Animal Industry showing some breakfast staples testing positive for ASF.

Without specifying brands, the document said hotdog, longganisa, and tocino all have "ASF Viral DNA detected." The document was signed by Veterenarian Cristina Legaspi and noted by Veterinary Laboratory Division Chief Rosemarie Antegro.

CNN Philippines has reached out to the DA, but it has yet to comment on the report made by its attached agency.

Just last week, the Department of Interior and Local Government ordered local officials to lift the ban they had imposed on processed meat products, saying these are safe as long as they have proper certifications from the government. The Department of Agriculture and the National Meat Inspection Service check if the meat products are cooked at high temperatures, where the swine fever virus cannot thrive. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has also appealed to mayors and governors not to bar the entry of pork items, as manufacturers of processed meat are already slashing production.

Some officials, including Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia, defied the DILG's order, saying they could not compromise the welfare of their constituents.

Cases of African Swine Fever have been confirmed in some areas in Quezon City, Rizal, Bulacan, and Pangasinan. Since the outbreak of swine fever in July, around 30,000 pigs have been culled.

LOOK: A timeline of African Swine Fever in the PH

The current import ban on pork and pork products covers 16 countries hit by swine fever; namely Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, Zambia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Mongolia, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

African Swine Fever only affects pigs, but humans can carry the virus and spread the disease.

The virus quickly spreads in an affected hog, which could lead to death after three to five days, threatening food supply.

CNN Philippines' Carolyn Bonquin contributed to this report.