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Backyard hog raisers badly hit

By Leonardo Micua

BURY that trader, not our pigs.

This was the tearful plea translated in English of a backyard hog raiser in Mapandan town who protested the seizure and subsequent culling of her pigs by the personnel of the Department of Agriculture who went to her house in Barangay Baloling, Mapandan and explained to her on the need to enforce the 1-7-10 protocol of the DA as the African Swine Fever was already detected in her village.

The elderly woman did not know what the DA protocol is all about. What she knew is that the government has no right seizing her pigs that she expected to sell to a local meat vendor in the market and the proceeds from that sale would be used to boost the expenses of her daughter in college for the remaining part of the school year.

She learned about what happened in Barangay Baloling when the 60 hogs smuggled in by the trader were seized and executed one by one, with one gunshot wound each in the head, then buried en masse in a big hole dug by a backhoe.

The hog raisers within the one-kilometer radius of ground zero are crying out loud why their hogs they so loved were made to die for the fault of one man, Roger Erpelo, who reportedly bought the hogs in Bustos, Bulacan in an attempt to make a fast buck despite his knowing that ASF already infected pigs in two or more barangays in Guiguinto.   

We learned that for each pig culled, DA is paying only P3,000, a paltry sum compared to what it can fetch in the livestock market.

At the emergency press conference called by Gov. Amado Espino III confirmed that it was Roger Erpelo of Mapandan who brought ASF to Pangasinan through deceptive means in his bid to earn fast bucks from the transaction.

His convoy of several jeeps loaded with hogs—and which was preceded by a lead vehicle–  exited from the Tarlac-Pangsinan La Union Expressway in Anao, then proceeded to San Manuel, Tarlac, passing a small interior road connected to Bersamin, Alcala, thus eluding quarantine checkpoints established along the highways.

Reports showed that today, Erpelo not only faces the wrath of the provincial government, the police and the Bureau of Animal Industry, but also almost all of the stakeholders of the hog industry in Pangasinan, now being threatened by the ASF.

They are already collaborating for the filing of cases seeking damages against Erpejo for his unwarranted action that endangered the hog industry.

The woman and her neighbors lament that for the insatiable greed of the trader, many people like them are being made to suffer. Many who invested in raising pigs are losing their investments while the provincial government continues to spend enormous resources just to ensure the ASF will be contained.

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I just came back from a quick trip to Laoag City and observed that Ilocos Sur authorities have doubled up security personnel manning a quarantine checkpoint, as a result of the news that ASF was found among hogs in one town in Pangasianan.

Pangasinan and Ilocos Sur were earlier hailed by the DA as the only two provinces in Region I whose governors imposed temporary total ban on the entry of hogs from adjacent provinces in order to be safe from ASF.

In Pangasinan, the total ban is still in effect along the highways and on all interior roads leading to Pangasinan.

In Ilocos Sur, which is very over-protective of its Vigan longgoniza and “bagnet”, it now totally bans not only live swine but also meat products from Pangasinan from entering Ilocos Sur.

La Union, which used to be dependent from live swine from Pangasinan has also imposed strict quarantine regulations along its highways 24/7 to save the province from ASF. 

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