Capitol to sue Bureau of Animal Industry over ASF mess

Capitol to sue Bureau of Animal Industry over ASF mess. [FILE PHOTO] Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is going after the Bureau of Animal Industry for their handling of the African Swine Fever in Cebu.  | (File photo) Screengrab from Gov. Garcia's press briefing 

[FILE PHOTO] Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is going after the Bureau of Animal Industry for their handling of the African Swine Fever in Cebu.  | (File photo) Screengrab from Gov. Garcia’s press briefing

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Tension between the Cebu Provincial government and the national government’s bureau tasked in regulating the movement of livestock over the African Swine Fever (ASF) has not died down yet.

And this time, the Capitol will be taking the battle to court. 

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia on Monday, March 27, announced that they would file administrative, and possibly criminal, charges against the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA). 

READ: ASF in Cebu: Gwen threatens to sue animal industry bureau

BAI accountable

During a press briefer on Monday, Garcia said they wanted to hold BAI accountable for ‘inflicting misery’ upon hog raisers and backyard breeders amid the ASF crisis here. 

“Has anybody made you accountable on whether or not your policies worked? Killing all these pigs, effectively reducing the hog population of the entire country and yet failing in containing ASF, according to you… You should answer for that,” said Garcia.

READ: Gwen sticks with decision to halt culling of pigs in Carcar

Administrative charges to be filed

Lawyer Donato Villa, provincial legal officer, said they were set to file administrative cases against certain BAI officials, including those from the Central Visayas and central offices, before the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday, March 28. 

According to Villa, who was also present on Monday’s press conference, they would lodge charges against BAI for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act No. 3019).

Particularly, Section 3(e) as the Capitol believed that BAI only used ASF, especially culling as a preventive measure, as a reason to justify the entry of more imported pork in the country.

READ: Gwen: Stop testing pigs for ASF

Capitol questions culling

After Cebu recorded its first case of ASF, Garcia had been vocal in questioning the effectiveness of several measures and policies the national government had implemented to address the deadly swine disease. 

“If that (culling) is the most effective way, why is it that after four years…and four years you’re still claiming that ASF is here and you’re now including Cebu. So, how can that be effective? But it’s the most effective way of reducing our local meat produce,” said Garcia.

“And (culling is) the most effective way of justifying more and more, millions and millions and hundreds of millions of kilos of imported pork meat which the bureau of animal industry approves,” she said. 

READ: Cebu province implements own anti-ASF measures

Capitol to file Criminal cases, too

Aside from administrative complaints, the governor also warned the BAI that they too might face criminal cases. 

Since Cebu province recorded the first case of ASF in Carcar City, the Capitol decided to initiate a response plan that would deviate away from the standards of the BAI. 

The province rejected culling, random testing of live pigs, and allowed free movement of meat and livestock regardless if the areas had been afflicted with the infection.

READ: ASF detected in 5 more areas in Cebu

No ASF outbreak

Garcia also strongly believed that there’s no ASF outbreak in Cebu, contrary to previous pronouncements of the BAI which stated that they detected the swine disease in five more areas here, including the capital Cebu City.

She said that the swine deaths reported in some parts of Cebu province may only be a result of classic swine cholera. The governor claimed that ASF might manifest if dead pigs had been recorded in ‘massive quantities.’ 

Cebu, one of the Philippines’ largest pork suppliers, had been considered an ASF-free province for four years until last March 1 when authorities confirmed the virus’ presence in samples of slaughtered meat in Carcar City. 


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