Agriculture dept: Report sick pigs or face jail, fines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 15) — The Department of Agriculture warned that hog raisers who fail to report about their sick pigs could face jail time and fines.

"They violated RA 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act, as they deprived their dead pigs of adequate care, maltreating them in the process," Agriculture Secretary William Dar said Sunday in a statement.

Under the law, neglecting to provide adequate care to animals is punishable by imprisonment of six months to two years and a fine of ₱1,000 to ₱5,000.

Dar said hog raisers should report sick and dead pigs to their respective municipal or city veterinarians, who will then coordinate with the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Industry to determine the cause of sickness or death.

He also said that those who dispose of dead pigs in public places can also face fines of ₱300 to ₱1,000 or up to 15 days of community service as they violated the Solid Waste Management Act.

Dar’s warnings come as dead pigs turned up in waterways in Quezon City and Marikina City — a stone’s throw away from the provinces of Rizal and Bulacan, where pigs tested positive for the lethal African Swine Fever virus.

"It was utterly irresponsible on the part of the backyard raisers as they did not only violate current laws, but their misdoing also spread the disease pathogens much faster," he said. “The irresponsible dumping of dead pigs simply adds scare to the public, and this should not be tolerated. The perpetrators must be punished in accordance with the law.”

Marikina Mayor Marcelino "Marcy" Teodoro said they will be filing civil and criminal charges against those responsible for the dumping of 56 pig carcasses in Marikina River.

“Both civilly liable and criminally accountable. It can be considered as illegal dumping of pollutant ‘yun, eh,” Teodoro said.

Teodoro said he has provided a lead to the DA about the possible source of the dead pigs and that the Bureau of Animal Industry has already sent a team to Montalban, Rizal, to investigate this.

There are no piggeries or slaughterhouses in Marikina, Teodoro said.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte told CNN Philippines on Saturday about what could be the first confirmed cases of ASF in Metro Manila. She said 11 dead pigs in Barangay Bagong Silangan were tested positive for the virus.

She added that she also received reports of dead pigs in Barangay Payatas, but did not know how many there were.

All of Luzon is under close monitoring as authorities try to contain an outbreak of the African Swine Fever in the country.

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. The Agriculture department has set aside ₱60 million worth of financial assistance to hog raisers who have suffered losses from the virus.

To prevent entry of the disease into the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture has banned the entry of pork and pork products from China, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, Zambia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, China, Vietnam and Mongolia.

Several provinces in the Philippines have also prevented the entry of pork from other areas in the country.