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SP declares hog trader Roger Erpelo “persona non grata”

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan has declared hog trader Roger Erpelo persona non grata or “unwanted person” during its question hour of its Regular Session last October 6.

It can be recalled that on September 26, Erpelo of Barangay Baloling in Mapandan brought hogs from Bulacan, one of the provinces where hogs were affected with African Swine Fever (ASF).

Prime author Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Jeremy Agerico Rosario said in his preliminary statement that the “unfortunate incident is a result of the selfish and irresponsible act of a person” which he said is considered as a form of economic sabotage.

According to Board Member Rosario, price of hog meats in Mapandan went down to as low as P100/kilo from its regular price of P220 before the incident.

Erpelo clearly violated Executive Order 0092-2019 which was earlier signed by Gov. Amado I. Espino III to ban entry of all live swine/pigs to Pangasinan from all provinces, Rosario said.

Based on reports, the hog trader passed the route through Anao exit to San Manuel town, Tarlac to Bersamin in Alcala town, went right to Carmen bridge on the way to Villasis and to Urdaneta then to Urdaneta Bypass Road, then sitio Guam to Mapandan.

Provincial Legal Officer Geraldine U. Baniqued stated that cases have been filed against Erpelo on August 4 at the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor for “falsification of documents, violation of EO 0080-2019 and 0092-201, Tax Ordinance 1-2012 and other pertinent laws.”

Atty. Baniqued said: “He (Erpelo) knows that there is a total ban and it is unfair to put the blame on our people (pertaining to personnel manning the check points). I do not think that our people are to be blamed” as she further stressed that the provincial government did its best to augment the personnel of the Office of the Provincial Veterinarian by directing other staff from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) and the Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) to assist in the animal quarantine checkpoints.

As noted in the complaint affidavit, Erpelo did not only violate the executive orders but commit

falsification, as well: “The local shipping permit for the pigs transported by Mr. Roger Erpelo, which was purportedly issued by the Provincial Government of Bulacan have also been tampered. There are super-impositions made on some entries in the said local shipping permit, particularly on the date and the number of heads of pig. Falsification of public document is clearly present.”

In addition to this, falsification of Veterinary Health Certificate was also evident as it stated that the “fattener had been examined and found to be apparently healthy and free from evidence of any communicable disease.”

Mapandan Mayor Penuliar, on the other hand, vowed to support the provincial government’s drive for an ASF-free province. He then sought the assistance of the provincial board as to how he can utilize the remaining 30 percent of the local government unit’s calamity fund.

The provincial board, in return, disclosed that it is up to the LGU to assess the need to use the remaining fund for possible assistance to other affected hog traders in their locality.

For the part of the provincial government, Acting Provincial Veterinarian Jovito Tabarejos stated that all efforts will be exerted to ensure that no similar case of illegal transport of hogs will happen and for Pangasinan to be ASF-free province as ever.

Earlier, the provincial government conducted Provincial Security Summit which was participated in by different line agencies. During the summit, Dr. Tabarejos mentioned that ASF in Pangasinan is under control.

In fact, he stated that contingency plan of the provincial government to include the banning of pork imports, avoiding swill feeding, blocking of swine entry in the province, educating the people, and submitting laboratory samples to the responsible offices.

Dr. Tabarejos reiterated that the ASF is not transferable to humans but, is a viral disease that causes 100% mortality rate of affected swine.

In compliance to the 1-7-10 protocol, some hogs from the towns and cities within the seven-kimometer radius notably Mangaldan, Manaoag, Urdaneta, San Jacinto, Laoac, Pozzorubio and the rest of Mapandan-area are under surveillance and hogs were randomly tested and came out negative of ASF infection.

Testing of blood samples will be up until October 12 and when blood samples will be found negative Pangasinan will then be officially declared “ASF-free,” Department of Agriculture- Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulation Officer-in-Charge Gloria Tarong said.

Meanwhile, BM Rosario asked the support of the media via intensified information dissemination so that people may be fully aware of the situation further preventing the so-called ‘ASF scare.’

DA regulatory division chief Florentino Adame was also present during the question hour.

/Ruby R. Bernardino (Photos by Jinver Z. Perez)