CEBU CITY, Philippines—Pigs, pork products and byproducts, even those from areas with confirmed cases of the African Swine Fever (ASF), can now be transported without restrictions in Cebu province.
This after the provincial government decided to take its own course in managing the deadly swine disease that has already affected six areas here.
On Tuesday, March 21, 2023, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia held a meeting with local and national government officials, including heads of the Central Visayas offices of the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation to tackle threats of ASF in Cebu.
During the meeting, Garcia told officials that they will stick with their own policies of dealing with ASF, including creating ones that contradict those the national government agencies currently implement.
As a result, the governor issued Executive Order (EO) No. 10, which not only reiterates the province’s opposition on culling as a preventing measure against ASF but also contains new policies and other biosecurity measures that the national government have not created.
EO No. 10 does away with border controls in regulating the transportation of hogs, pork products and byproducts.
The new order also meant that Cebu will no longer follow a color-coding scheme in identifying areas hit by and at risk of ASF.
The National Zoning and Movement Plan for the Prevention and Control of ASF uses a color-coded map as a guide in determining localities affected by the deadly viral disease.
“We will craft our own policies. We will define our own direction… I will no longer allow color coding in Cebu, and we will lift border controls,” Garcia said.
Since authorities confirmed the first case of ASF in Cebu, in a slaughterhouse in Carcar City, Garcia has been skeptical towards the measures the national government took in combating the swine disease.
In fact, she ordered the local government of Carcar City to stop culling, or the selective slaughtering of livestock, following concerns from small-scale hograisers that it adversely impacts their livelihoods.
The governor also stopped random testing of live pigs, and that only those manifesting symptoms of ASF or classic swine fever will undergo such methods.
Despite these developments, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the DA decided to push through in executing the policies and biosecurity measures they introduced since 2019, leading Garcia in creating and issuing EO No. 10.
EO No. 10 also led for the creation of a task force dedicated in handling the ASF situation in the province.
The Capitol ordered local officials in forming the Barangay African Swine Fever Taskforce.
The group’s task included conducting an inventory of swine raisers, swine populations, and families that raise pigs; profiling backyard swine farms; monitoring the health status of swine populations; monitoring and recommending the isolation of sick pigs from healthy ones; facilitating the tests of pigs showing signs of ASF or classic swine fever; and provide real-time reporting to the Municipal Agricultural Office or City Veterinary Office.
Under the new EO, the provincial government is also expected to provide financial assistance to local governments in managing the ASF situation in their territories.
Cebu is one of the country’s largest producers of pork products, with its entire hog industry valued at P11 billion.
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