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PH has nothing to fear from African swine flu: Agri chief

MANILA – No pork products from countries plagued by the African swine fever have entered the Philippines and the importation ban could be good for the local industry, Agriculture Secretary Emanuel Piñol said Tuesday.

Piñol slammed news reports that a million kilos of meat from swine flu-hit Belgium were shipped to the Philippines, insisting that the importation of those pork products were consignment already in transit upon the issuance of the ban.

Importing pork products from countries such China, Hungary, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, and Zambia have been banned since September last year.

Asked if there’s anything to fear about African swine fever, Piñol told ANC’s Headstart: “Nothing.”

“Wag nating guluhin itong issue na ito, walang nakapasok na ASF sa bansa. Wag nating guluhin kasi sasabog sa mukha natin ‘yan, imbes na mag-e-export tayo, imbes na lalakas ang kain ng tao ng baboy,” he said.

(Let us not rile the issue, no meat from ASF-hit countries entered the country. Let us not muddle this because it will explode in our faces, instead of us exporting, instead of people eating more pork.)

The presence of swine flu in China and places in Europe “could be an advantage to the Philippines” as it would limit the importation of pork “which is actually hurting the local industry,” said Piñol.

He added, the country is now negotiating possibly exporting pork to Singapore after a major corporation manifested desire to do so.

“The farmers will respond right away to the requirements of the market. How long does it take to raise hogs? Just a few months,” he said.