Garcia said that she presented this idea to meat producers to emphasize that the province will take no risk in its preventive efforts against ASF.
Michael Varcas
Garcia eyes extending pork ban
Lorraine L. Ecarma (The Freeman) - January 21, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — As the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus shows no sign of containment, Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said she is eyeing an even longer extension to the ban on pork and pork products from infected areas.

Garcia said that she presented this idea to meat producers to emphasize that the province will take no risk in its preventive efforts against ASF.

"I told them, reassess your position because there is the possibility that I might extend the ban beyond June 30," Garcia said.

The governor said that even with her announcement last November 4 to extend to eight months the original 100-day ban, she was willing to lift the ban anytime as soon as the virus is contained thoroughly but she reportedly does not see it going this way.

"I was ready to lift it baya. Niingon bitaw ko nga for as long as we can assure nga contained na ang ASF, we'll lift it even before the appointed date unta. But I'm not seeing any improvement (I was ready to lift for as long as we can assure that the ASF is contained… we’ll lift it before the appointed ate but I’m not seeing any improvement)," Garcia said.

"And I fear that we might have to extend the ban until June 30… until it's contained. For as long as naa gihapo'y reports that it's spreading, we cannot take the risk," she added.

Garcia did not yet mention when she will sign the executive order to formalize the extension.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mary Rose Vincoy, Cebu Provincial Veterinarian, said the decision to extend the ban is up to the governor as it is within Garcia’s power as chairperson of the province’s ASF Task Force, but she supports the extension, considering that the cases in Luzon has only gotten worse.

"I think I see fit nga i-extend. Because the risk and the threat is always there," she said.

Vincoy said Cebu Province is aware of ASF cases in Luzon spreading to more provinces, some of which like Bataan have reportedly not been declared ASF positive by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

So far, only the provinces of Rizal, Bulacan, Pampanga, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Cavite, and Metro Manila have been declared ASF positive.

"We are aware that there are provinces affected in Luzon that are actually not part sa katong original na unom or pito nga gi-announce nga provinces (We are aware that there are provinces affected in Luzon that are not among the six or seven announced originally)," Vincoy said.

Despite this, Vincoy assured that residents here should not worry about local meat shortage.

Garcia, for her part, sees a silver lining in the ban of pork and pork-related products from Luzon and 21 other infected countries. She said this has generated the growth of local meat products and hog growers as Cebu franchises of national food chains have already started sourcing their pork from Cebu.

"In a sense, this is a positive offshoot of the ban. Because, nahatagan nuon ug negosyo ang atong kaugalingon nga pork producers (In a sense, this is a positive offshoot of the ban because we have given businesses to our local pork producers)," the governor said.

She said national meat producers should also start considering Cebu as source of pork as the province has never had a case of ASF.

"Probably these big companies will start re-strategizing and thinking about now considering Cebu as their source of pork kay we are ASF free," she said. (FREEMAN)

AFRICAN SWINE FEVER
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