• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson yesterday welcomed, with optimism and skepticism, the opening of the new ferry trips between Pulupandan town in Negros Occidental to neighboring Guimaras province.
While it is also a positive tourism development for both Guimaras and Negros, Lacson said it will also pose a challenge in the fight of the provincial government of Negros Occidental against African Swine Fever, as he “expects more human traffic with these ferry trips.”
The Department of Agriculture – Region 6 earlier confirmed the detection of ASF cases in Guimaras, aside from six Iloilo towns.
This prompted the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian of Negros Occidental to further tighten security at all possible entry points in the coastal municipalities of 4th district, facing Guimaras island.
The NaviMar Shipping announced that it started RoRo trips from Pulupandan Port to Sebaste Port Guimaras, on January 21. It has two trips per day from each port, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, according to the announcement posted on its Facebook page.
However, the schedule of trips may vary, depending on the tides, and the fare is pegged at P220 passenger.
ASF is a large double standard virus, which causes hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates among domestic pigs.
The hog industry in Negros Occidental is the top backyard swine producer in the country and is valued at P6 billion.
Hogs and pork products from Panay island and Guimaras are currently banned in Negros Occidental, which remains ASF-free as of this time, according to Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Placeda Lemana.
The PVO has mobilized its trained para-veterinarians in the different coastal barangays of 4th district, to watch their respective areas.
A joint ASF task force was also created by the provincial government of Negros Occidental and highly urbanized Bacolod City to guard the major ports and airports in the province against the entry of ASF.*