By Carmela Martinez
Mindanao Authority Development (MinDA) Chief Emmanuel Piñol on Tuesday blasted Agriculture Secretary William for blaming the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak on him during his time as the agency’s head.
“To say that I was disappointed by the accusation of a fellow Cabinet official under this administration is an understatement,” Piñol said in a Facebook post.
According to a report by ABS-CBN News, Dar said on Monday that there have been reports of ASF in the Philippines as early as May, and, yet, the DA, which was still under Piñol at the time, did nothing.
The former DA secretary responded and noted that the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) or World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) had not recorded or reported ASF as being present in the country in the months of May, June or July. He noted that the first case was recorded in August.
“Experts say that the incubation period of the ASF virus is between 4 to 19 days and it could decimate a hog population in 48 to 72 hours. This means that if indeed the ASF was already present in the country in May, by August when Sec. Dar took over the DA, it should have already wiped out the hog population among backyard farmers in Central Luzon,” he said.
But he did point out that the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) Quarantine Teams at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) intercepted pork products that were suspected of containing ASF.
He also noted that the ASF outbreak hotspots were usually around the area where dumpsites are present and food wastes were sold to hog raisers.
“Assuming that indeed the ASF virus entered the country during the transition period which unfortunately manifested after Secretary Dar’s take over of the DA on Aug. 6, engaging in a blame game will not do us any good,” he said.
The MinDa chief said that he promised help and support in the turnover ceremony.
“I am still making that same commitment today even if he has offended me with his irresponsible accusations and childish actuations of looking for people to blame in the face of crisis,” Piñol said.
“Enough of the blame game. Let us work together in addressing the problems. I hope you will take this piece of advice knowing that you are the Agriculture Expert and I am just a Farm Boy,” he added.
Dar officially took office on August 5 while Emmanuel Piñol resigned in June.
According to a report by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the first occurrence of the ASF disease in the country was recorded on July 25.