MANILA -- Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia has signed an executive order lifting all border controls in the province in relation to the movement of pigs and pork related products.
This came after a consultative meeting with hog raisers, the Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and other stakeholders regarding the presence of the African swine fever in the province.
In her new order, free movement of pigs and related products are allowed within Cebu Province as long as documents such as veterinary health certificate is complied with.
There was a ban in the past weeks for hog and pork movement coming from ASF infected Carcar City, where the samples of the virus were first detected.
On Monday, the DA - Bureau of Animal Industry announced that they detected the ASF virus in other areas such as Cebu City, Liloan, Sibonga, Bogo City and Tuburan.
“We will craft our own policies. We will define our own direction. Because, hello, this is the Province of Cebu!” said Garcia.
Instead, in Garcia’s order, she mandated the creation of a Barangay African Swine Fever Taskforce where purok leaders and barangay kagawads will take on the surveillance and monitoring task.
The Governor had earlier refused to conduct culling activities in Carcar City and in other areas declared by the Department of Agriculture as red zones for the deadly virus.
“The task force will include the barangay health worker, the purok leader and the kagawad in-charge of the sitio. Over all in-charge will be the barangay captain. Intensive surveillance. When symptoms are seen, immediately isolate,” Garcia added.
She explained that by isolating, they are saving the healthy hogs from getting the disease.
“The virus spreads through body to body contact and ingestion. But the meat is safe for human consumption,” Garcia further said.
This task force will conduct daily routine monitoring that disinfection and health of hogs in farms are duly reported.
Sampling will also be done with hogs that exhibit ASF or Cholera Fever symptoms.
The personnel involved shall also make sure that hogs are fed right, and not with a mixture of random human food or swill.
Garcia's mandate to those who will be caught violating these measures is to close down the farm.
The Cebu Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines welcomed the change in policy of Garcia.
“We lack hogs and we if continue this program of culling then we will lose supply,” said its President Rolando Tambago.
The Department of Agriculture in Central Visayas also expressed its support.
“This will be an eye-opener,” said DA 7 Director Angel Enriquez.
It is a standard procedure set by national agencies to cull hogs within the 500-meter radius of the ASF source.
Garcia’s order takes effect immediately tonight.
- report from Annie Perez