Authorities seize ₱1.1-M worth of siopao in Bacolod

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Bacolod, Negros Occidental (CNN Philippines, October 18) – Local authorities said an estimated ₱1.1 million worth of siopao or pork buns were intercepted at the Bacolod Real Estate Development Corporation port on Wednesday.

Provincial African Swine Fever Task Force of Negros Occidental seized during shipment inspection a total of 8,640 packs of siopao or 51,840 pieces of buns loaded in a container van that came from Mandaue City in Cebu, Dr. Ryan Janoya, head of the Animal Health and Meat Inspection Services Division of the Provincial Veterinary Office, said.

While the shipment came from Cebu, the manufacturing address stated on their documents is in Quezon province in Luzon, from which Negros Occidental has imposed a ban of live swine, pork and pork products since September due to the African swine fever scare, Janoya said.

The packs of siopao will be shipped back to Cebu.

Shipment slips past Cebu authorities

The Cebu Provincial Veterinary Office is tracing how the shipment of the frozen meat products slipped past its inspectors, and reached Bacolod, even if a ban on pork products from Luzon is in place in the Central Visayan province.

Dr. Rose Vincoy, provincial veterinarian and co-chair of the Cebu African Swine Fever Task Force, ordered a tracing on how the goods were transported on Friday.

He said that he has received no information about the shipped pork buns and how they entered the province.

Vincoy suspected that the packs of siopao might have been shipped through private ports, adding that the produce may have come from cold storage facilities in Cebu, which have meat products from Luzon that were manufactured months before the pork ban was implemented.

Vincoy admitted that there is less monitoring on outbound cargoes from Cebu, as authorities are more focused on inbound meat products.

The Cebu ASF Task Force is now awaiting the arrival of the shipment from Bacolod, so proper handling procedures can be done.

On Wednesday, the task force passed a resolution to extend Negros Occidental's 90-day ban on pork and pork products coming from the northern Philippines after the African swine fever outbreak was declared in areas of Quezon City, Rizal and Bulacan. This is in spite of the Department of Interior and Local Government memorandum circular, urging local government units to lift the ban on processed pork which are registered with the Food and Drugs Administration.

The task force said in a resolution that it will reconsider the DILG’s recommendation “as it is inimical to the food security program of the Province of Negros Occidental.” But the ban stays as it has yet to receive a copy of the memorandum, the task force added.

It added that any premature lifting of the existing ban will pose serious and irreversible damage to the ₱6-billion swine industry of Negros Occidental.

The officials said the local hog industry of the Western Visayas province has been losing ₱300 million monthly following the outbreak of ASF virus in some areas in Luzon.

Aside from Negros Occidental, Benguet, Cebu, Bohol, and Pampanga are among the provinces which have banned the entry of live hogs and even pork products shipped from areas affected by the swine fever. Meanwhile, a conditional ban is in place in other local government units.

LOOK: A timeline of African Swine Fever in the PH

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 sudden death.