DBM releases ₱82.5M for meat inspection, monitoring of African Swine Fever

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 11) — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released a ₱82.5 million fund to keep African Swine Fever at bay, days after the Agriculture department confirmed local pig deaths due to the disease.

The Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bureau of Animal Industry received the funds on Tuesday, the DBM said, which will be used for "preventive measures." President Rodrigo Duterte approved the release of these funds, the agency said.

On Monday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar confirmed cases of the swine fever among pig farms in Rodriguez and Antipolo in Rizal and in Guiguinto, Bulacan. He added that 7,416 pigs have been culled so far, following tests done in the United Kingdom which showed that 14 of 20 pig blood samples tested positive for the disease.

African Swine Fever only affects pigs, but humans can carry the disease and spread it locally. A virus quickly spreads in an affected hog, which could lead to death after three to five days.

Of the amount released, ₱31.8 million will be used for security protocol to inspect meat and meat products brought in through international airports, the DBM said.

READ: Pork vendors sales slump amid African Swine Fever fears

ASF was first detected in Siberia in 2018, according to the United Nations. ASF likely entered the country as Filipinos brought in pork products from abroad despite the ban in place, Dar said earlier this week.

The DA asked the Food and Drug Administration to recall Ma Ling and other pork products from 16 countries affected by the swine disease, which include China, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Food scraps from hotels and restaurants which are fed to hogs could also be the trigger, the DA added.

A third or ₱27.7 million will be spent for testing of meat and meat product samples, the agency said. Some ₱17.6 million will be used for surveillance and monitoring, they added, while ₱5.4 million is set aside for awareness campaigns.

The DA previously said it will provide a ₱3,000 financial aid for affected hog raisers, including new piglets for backyard raisers.

Dar added that Duterte has also approved the creation of a National Task Force on Swine Disease, where the DA will seek the help of other government agencies to tighten quarantine measures and prevent the spread of the disease to other provinces.

The DA said they are verifying reports of swine fever cases in other areas, but said that the disease is "under control" and is limited to two provinces for now.