Piñol sacks NAIA quarantine team
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on Friday, January 4, that he will relieve the entire personnel of the Department of Agriculture's Quarantine Group at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for defying his order on the implementation of quarantine procedures against African Swine Fever (ASF).
Piñol said his directive would be effective 5 pm on Friday.
“I will issue the order today,” he said in a Facebook post.
Piñol, who was in the Bicol region to check on the situation of the agriculture sector following Tropical Depression Usman, said the "relief of the whole Quarantine Team at the NAIA should send a clear message to members of the Department of Agriculture (DA) family that we cannot take Administrative Directives for granted.”
He said aside from relieving the entire Quarantine Group personnel, there will be an investigation to determine if there was any ground to charge them of dereliction of duty.
Piñol had earlier ordered a ban on the entry of pork and pork-based products from 8 countries to prevent the spread of swine fever in Philippine piggeries.
The agriculture chief said when the outbreak was monitored as early as last year, the DA immediately established a plan of action to prevent the entry of the disease into the country.
“Shortly before the holidays, I ordered Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Acting Director Ronnie Domingo to ensure that footbaths and other Quarantine measures are established in all entry points of the country as the dreaded ASF, a disease killing pigs in at least 8 countries, was reported spreading in China,” he said.
He said the directive was for all quarantine stations “to establish Footbaths in all entry points of the country, the interception and confiscation of all pork-based products,”
Piñol said the lack of footbaths at NAIA came to his attention after reports quoting agriculture advocate Rosendo So. When he verified it with Domingo, the latter cited "procurement issues" as reason for this.
“Upon reading the report, I immediately called up Dr Domingo and confronted him about it. Dr Domingo admitted that the NAIA Quarantine Group failed to establish the Footbath facility 'because of procurement issues' and it was the only station which failed to implement the directives,” he said.
Piñol said he did not buy the alibi because the Quarantine Group there could have found ways.
Piñol apologized “to the stakeholders of the hog industry for this administrative lapse.”
“While I have issued the needed directives to implement the Quarantine Procedures, I have to admit that there are still weak links in the Department which need to be corrected,” he added.
African Swine Fever, caused by virus, is a highly-contagious swine disease that had alreadycaused heavy losses among swine farmers in other countries.
In one China farm, more than 8,000 pigs were reported infected and over half had died.
The disease is difficult to detect unless in its advance stage. – Rappler.com