CEBU CITY, Philippines—The clash between the Cebu Provincial Government and the national bureau tasked in regulating livestock movement, over the African Swine Fever (ASF) here, continues.
And this time, the battle may take place in court.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has threatened the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) that they may face charges if they continue to implement their measures in managing the ASF situation in the province.
Garcia on Wednesday, March 22 said they will not hesitate to lodge administrative charges “against any national official or employee” who refuse to coordinate with local governments here.
The governor made this statement in response to BAI’s recent pronouncement that the deadly swine disease has been detected in five more areas aside from Carcar City, where the first case of ASF was reported.
Garcia also denied that the province is suffering an ‘ASF outbreak.’
“Our pork is safe. There is no outbreak. What in god’s name is a basis for an outbreak? To declare an ASF outbreak in Cebu is an irresponsible statement,” she said.
More pork importation?
The BAI recently said they will continue to implement anti-ASF measures and protocols despite the Capitol’s opposition, saying the methods have been backed by science.
However, this did not sit well with Garcia.
It can be recalled that the provincial government decided to do away with several biosecurity measures, like culling random testing of pigs, and border controls in transporting hogs, pork products and by products, which the national government introduced in 2019 as part of its response against ASF.
In turn, the governor further questioned the bureau’s intentions, particularly culling, or the selective slaughtering of livestock, as means to keep ASF at bay.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Garcia believed that the policy was meant to justify the continued importation of meat products.
“It’s tantamount to economic sabotage… These depopulation methods, and more and more pork importation is being approved by you? There’s more to this than meets the eye of a killed pig,” explained Garcia.
The BAI is tasked, among others, to enforce importation of meat products in the country.
According to reports from national media outlets, the country is poised to post an increase in pork importation this year.
Data from BAI showed that the Philippines recorded its ‘biggest volume of entry for imported meat products’ in June 2022, at 1.36 billion kilos, with pork making up approximately 52 percent.
The BAI has yet to issue its comments over Garcia’s recent statements.
In the meantime, the Capitol continue to assure consumers here that locally produced meat and pork products are safe to eat as ASF does not pose any threat to human health.
Cebu province implements own anti-ASF measures