‘If you like sausages, don’t ask how they are made.’
The government seems to have stemmed the criminal activities of the kidnap-for-ransom gang Abu Sayyaf. But now it is dealing with a more dangerous outbreak of the African Swine Fever.
Why is the ASF more dangerous?
It is an unseen enemy. It is widespread because of the swine-raising industry’s insensitivity to the perils of the pork meat infection, and the disease’s spread is getting out of hand. The most affected areas are in Bulacan and Rizal. Several dead pigs infected with ASF were thrown in the Marikina River; these recovered pigs were found positive for ASF, prompting the local government to warn against eating fish from the Marikina River.
Bureau of Animal Industry officials and Agriculture Secretary William Dar said that the swine fever outbreak has not reached epidemic proportions yet because the DA and the BAI are culling pigs including those not sick but in close contact with the stricken ones. These infected pigs are killed, burned and buried to prevent the spread of the disease.
Some pig raisers are trying to cut their losses by shipping their pigs in trucks with some of infected and bringing them directly to the market. Fortunately, alert police authorities were able to stop this.
Some say “if you like sausages, don’t ask how they are made.” Because I like sausages, I have been staying away from them for now.
The World Health Organization has only identified Bulacan and Rizal as areas of concern. The ASF contamination nonetheless has depressed the prices of pork, and consequently raised the prices of chicken and fish in the local market.
Dar has appealed to the media not to amplify the fear of eating pork as it would create irreversible damage to the pork industry. But the public cannot really be blamed they now are averse to eating pork meat. Even before ASF, there were reports of “botcha”—pork meat from dead pigs—being sold at the local market.
This fear can swell the number of vegetarians and fish eaters. This is actually good for one’s health. As a diabetic, I have been eating more fish and veggies these days.
Saudi oil facilities attacked
Sure to send the prices of petroleum and other oil products soaring is the recent drone missile attack on Saudi oil facilities. Affected were half of Saudi oil production but only 5 percent of global consumption. The United States blamed Iran for the attack; Iran has denied this. The US thinks the rebels in Yemen, with whom Saudi Arabia is presently at war, does not have the technical capacity to launch such attacks from either Iran or rebel-controlled parts of Iraq. President Donald Trump has come out with an ominous “we are locked and loaded” statement, depending on the verification of where the attack was hatched and launched.
A war in the Middle East could erupt ahead of the territorial dispute in the South China Sea. The US has enough oil reserves it labels as strategic reserves in the event of disruption of supplies from the Middle East. This is oil from Alaska and other states like like Oklahoma, Texas and New Orleans off the Gulf of Mexico.
But the US is a strong ally of Saudi Arabia, not only because of its Aramco operations in the Middle Eastern country but also because as a military ally where it sells a lot of its modern armaments like fighter jets and missiles, it is expected to fight alongside the Saudis against any enemy.
Will China come to the Saudi side since it buys most of its oil supplies from Saudi Arabia? Perhaps not, because China is now facing seaveral challenges in the South China Sea and the widespread protests of two-million Hong Kong people opposed to the extradition of criminal suspects for trial in mainland China.
Then, there is the possible British intercession if the Chinese violently crack down on the Hong Kong protesters. As it is, the police are now using truncheons and tear gas against the petrol bomb-throwing demonstrators. How long before a full-scale battle erupts? Only the two sides would know.
The United Nations and the world are watching these two tinderbox situations in Asia and the Middle East.