(Updated) Smuggling and Mindanao’s fight against Bird Flu

It’s probably just a petty news for the unsuspecting public. At first I thought, too, it was just like that.

Around 270 heads of wildlife birds and animals yielded in an NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) raid Sunday. The figures have varied between NBI, the smuggler identified as Mike Artocilla from Lasang, and the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the DENR. For the NBI and the suspect: 136; for the PAWB: 270 based on figures at the raid site. Read the report on MindaNews.com. and here for an update.

The next day the wildlife stock were applied with Carbon Dioxide then burnt via government incenerators in Sasa, Davao City.

But the Department of Agriculture said it: smuggling could slip Bird Flu to Mindanao and yet the government and the other countries within the East ASEAN Growth Area have insufficient safety measures to prevent it.

You cannot negotiate with smugglers, of course, that they should pass through the legal entry points in seaports so that they will be quarantined.

DA regional director Roger Chio said they have strict quarantine procedures but they have no control if the wildlife birds enter via smuggling routes using boats that slip past coast guards.

To add to it, Chio believed Davao City is just a transhipment point of the smuggled birds. He said the birds will sell higher in Manila. So what’s at risk is not only Mindanao but the rest of the Philippines.

He said it has to be stopped, but couldn’t outline measures how smuggling could be stopped. It’s a thing bigger as smuggling is an international problem.

He said the Regional Avian Flu Task Force had been in place since three years ago and they have counterparts down the line to municipal level.

Primarily the task force have conducted information and education campaigns on the virus and has alerted all ports of entry, he said.
Artocilla entered the shores of Lanang when he returned from the island of Halmajira near the city of Bitung. And he has been into this business for the last two years and have made at least three trips, he claimed in the route. He slipped maritime security? Yes, because he looks just like any ordinary fisherman.

Ok, anyway we don’t know if Halmajira had been infected. Besides we killed the stock, so there is no more cause for alarm. Are we sure? How many smugglers are we talking about it here and how many birds had been traded illegally without passing through quarantine.

Maybe its just like asking how many passengers did not step out of the bus and took a foot bath at the quarantine points entering Bukidnon.

The Mindanao Economic Development Council assured that rules and regulations on the campaign against the spread of bird flue had been deliberation in the BIMP EAGA’s Customs-Immigration-Quarantine-Security cooperation.

Of course we don’t like to brush paranoia to the same unsuspecting public. We just want to check if our authorities mean it when they say they have closely watched and guarded Mindanao away from this Asian problem.

(There are sources also saying the burning was questionable because the exotic birds may not be carriers, raisng scientific and ethical questions.)


About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

3 responses to “(Updated) Smuggling and Mindanao’s fight against Bird Flu”

  1. Jim says :

    animal movement is a great problem in the Southeast Asia especially in disease control and prevention. with regard to smuggling, the responsibility rests with the police while other stakeholders (maritime, animal industry, crops, environment among others) should take active role in assisting the police in apprehension and technical guidance.

    The Philippines is considered as one of the countries with good preventive measures against bird flu or we are just lucky i suppose or the authorities are just good in hiding cases??? whatever, we are assured that there are good efforts being done to strengthen the country’s HPAI Prevention Program through foreign assisted projects and (international and national) NGO assistance

    any bird could be affected by bird flu, however, their role might differ from one another, i.e., they could be carrier or might not exhibit symptoms. when i read this news, i agree that the burning might not be too ethical as some of the species might be endangered. however, since it was smuggled it is inevitable to cull all the birds, the risks are just too high nowadays.

    Vietnam is currently dealing with another wave of HPAI outbreaks and I think the Philippines, while it is ready in paper, might not be ready for the real thing. but let’s still cross our fingers. 🙂

  2. Vanessa says :

    Smuggled poultry and other agricultural products increase the risk of introducing agricultural pests and diseases like avian influenza into the United States. If you are a merchant who imports products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance Program needs your help.

    Some poultry products are restricted and can enter the U.S. under certain restrictions while others are simply prohibited. To find out which products are prohibited or restricted, or to anonymously report a business illegally importing poultry products, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/international_safeguarding/sitc/index.shtml

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