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Tacloban City
July 19, 2002


Five regional offices of the Department of Agriculture (DA-RFUs) have a cause for joy and celebration. After several years of anxious and expectant waiting, Visayas, Palawan and Masbate areas are now declared internationally as a Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD)-free zone.

Regional Executive Director Leo P. Cañeda of DA-RFU 8 revealed this "good news" in an interview with him. Among other things, he said that he, along with his fellow Regional Executive Directors from DA Regions IV, V, VI and VII, or the areas bordering this newly - declared zone, met at Cebu City last July 5, 2002 to hear the area declared as such.

Thus, to celebrate this event, the country's National FMD Task Force spearheaded by Dr. Imelda Santos, FMD Veterinary Services Specialist, represented Dr. Carolyn Benigno in this activity. It was also participated in by the National Veterinary Quarantine Chief Dr. Ronello Abila, officers of the hog raisers nationwide, Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc., Dir. Jose Q. Molina of the Bureau of Animal Industry, Directors Pedro Ocampo and Efren Nuestro of the Livestock Development Council and National Meat Inspection Commission, respectively. The five regional offices were represented by there Regional Executive Directors, Regional FMD Coordinators, Veterinary Quarantine Officers and Provincial Veterinarians.

Agriculture Undersecretary Cesar M. Drilon was the Guest Speaker. He emphasized the economic importance of keeping the country free of FMD, specially now that we are competing with other countries for market of our livestock products. He hopes that other zones in the country will likewise gain similar recognition in the near future.

The Office Internationale des Epizooties (OIE) and other Epizooties Commission of the World Health Organization for Animal Health in France approved the application of this zone last May 28, 2002 as an FMD - free zone without vaccination.

"However" RED Cañeda said, "the greater challenge is how to enjoin the general public to continue their support to keep this area an FMD-free zone." This means intensified monitoring effort among those concerned, and never wavering in doing the smallest tasks towards maintaining this status we are enjoying today.

This launching and celebration was done in order to acknowledge all those who have contributed towards making this OIE declaration possible in the Visayas, Palawan and Masbate zone.

FMD is a highly contagious viral disease of cloven footed animals, commonly affecting pigs, cows, carabaos, sheep and goat. There are 7 known strains of FMD virus of which 3 have been reported in the Philippines over the last 80 years. It can survive for up to 10 days at room temperature in the environment. People can spread FMD on their hands, feet and clothing. 

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