December 13, 2003

 

 

Philippines Declare FMD-Free; Meat Exports First Time in History

 

By May 2004, Philippines will be foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease-free, paving the way for the country to export its meat and meat products for the first time in its history.

 

This was announced yesterday by the Philippines' Department of Agriculture (DA) after it entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to intensify the campaign to eradicate FMD in the country.

 

Agriculture Secretary Luis Lorenzo, Jr. said the move is aimed at eventually securing the declaration of the entire Philippines as FMD and vaccination-free by the Office Internationale des Epizooties (OIE) or the World Organization for Animal Health, thus enabling the country to export meat and meat products.

 

He stressed the intense FMD eradication campaign conducted by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and the National Meat Inspection Commission (NMIC) has met strong resistance from some slaughterhouse operators, livestock traders and meat dealers.

 

"We are taking this step to safeguard the lives of the employees and officers of NMIC and BAI as they conduct monitoring, surveillance and apprehension of violators of laws, rules and regulation pertaining to the control and eradication of FMD," Lorenzo said.

 

FMD is a dreaded disease that affects hoofed animals such as cattle and swine.

 

However, the FMD strain that is common in the country is "serotype O Cathay" and mainly affects swine. The strain created an epidemic in 1995 causing a huge loss in the swine industry.

 

Last year, the DA issued Administrative Orders Nos. 5 and 32 to prevent and control the spread of FMD. In particular, AO 5 was issued to control the movement of FMD-susceptible animals, meat and meat products coming from epidemic areas in Luzon going to FMD-free areas in Mindanao, Visayas and Masbate.

 

The OIE recognized Mindanao in May 2001 as FMD-free, while Visayas, Palawan and Masbate were declared FMD-free areas in May 2002. These areas can now participate in the global trading through exportation of their animals, meat and meat products.

 

On the other hand, AO 32 or the "All-in, All-out Policy" mandates all animals brought to slaughterhouses must be slaughtered within the day and should be out of the place within 24 hours.

 

Under the MOA, the DILG and PNP shall detail personnel in the National Capital Region (NCR) and other regions whenever necessary to assist the DA in the enforcement of the two administrative orders.

Law enforcement personnel will also be deputized to assist the DA-BAI-NMIC to execute strict monitoring, surveillance and apprehension of violators.

 

To date, FMD outbreaks are still experienced in the three regions in Luzon - Regions 3, 4 and NCR. The other regions in Luzon - Regions 1, 2, 5 and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) - have the high risk of experiencing FMD cases.

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