Cebu News

ASF feared to impact Cebu’s tourism industry

Robhe Jane C. Yara - The Freeman
ASF feared to impact Cebu�s tourism industry
Marti Ybanez, the Provincial Tourism Officer, said Thursday that the feared spread of the virus across different areas in Cebu, particularly in Cebu Province, might affect Cebu’s culinary tourism.

CEBU, Philippines — An official of the Cebu Provincial Tourism Office is hopeful the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus that has currently infested pigs in some parts of Carcar City will be contained soon, citing it could also have a tremendous impact on Cebu’s tourism industry.

Marti Ybanez, the Provincial Tourism Officer, said Thursday that the feared spread of the virus across different areas in Cebu, particularly in Cebu Province, might affect Cebu’s culinary tourism.

Ybanez explained that most Cebuano delicacies, including the famous “lechon baboy” comes from pork or pork-related products.

Just this week, Carcar City Mayor Patricio “Patrick” Barcenas revealed that they tested hogs on 11 of the city’s 15 barangays, of which three barangays came out positively infected with ASF last February.

Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Mary Rose Vincoy explained that the pigs tested allegedly co-mingled with other pigs from Negros while kept in stockyards.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia then issued at least three Executive Orders (EOs) banning pork and pork-related products from Negros Island, Carcar City, and the complete isolation of Carcar to contain the ASF virus.

Ybanez said the news could have an adverse effect on Carcar and its neighboring areas in the south, knowing they are famously known for having one of the best lechons.

“Even the famous torta in Argao among its ingredients is pork oil. So, we are really hoping that our team, which is doing their best, could contain it (ASF),” said Ybanez.

Though unable to state the exact figures, Ybanez said the province’s tourism economy is slowly recovering and has risen close to its number during the pre-pandemic era.

In 2019, the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) recorded 12.7 million domestic and international passengers, while it decreased to 1.3 million in 2021 due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Ybanez said that since the province re-opened for tourist arrivals on July 29, 2021, its tourism boosted to more than 50 percent and has continued to increase.

“Before we only had full (tourist) bookings on weekends. Now even on weekdays, we already have a good figure of bookings. And those tourist spots devastated by Typhoon Odette (Rai) are recovering. It is a good sign that we are soaring high,” said Ybanez.

Danao City’s EO

Meanwhile, the city government of Danao has also issued an executive order banning live hogs and pork-related products from Carcar City and Negros Island following the African Swine Fever (ASF) infestation in Carcar.

Danao City Mayor Thomas “Mix” Durano released Wednesday, March 8, Executive Order no. 20 ordering a temporary ban of live hogs, sows, piglets, boar semen, pork, and pork-related products (processed and cooked) in Negros and Carcar.

The EO was an adoption from EOs 9 and 9-B authored by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia.

In a statement, the city government said it issued the mandate to spare the possible spread of ASF in Danao and to protect its swine industry. Danao is one of the hog suppliers in Cebu and one of Cebu City’s sources of pig and pork-related products.

Under the order, the city government will implement strict regulation on the entry of all pork and pork-related products, particularly on scanning the necessary documents that hog suppliers need to present.

It stated that this would not limit presenting an animal health certificate, meat inspection certificate, and barangay backyard farm certificate from where the hogs were sourced.

In the current national zoning plan released by the Department of Agriculture Central Visayas (DA-7) as of March 5, Danao city is currently placed in the green or ASF-safe zone.

Among the areas placed in utmost concern for intensive monitoring and blood testing is Carcar City in the red zone or the infected zone and municipalities of Sibonga, Barili, San Fernando, and Aloguinsan in the buffer or nearest areas of the infected zone.

Argao, Dumanjug, Pinamungahan, and Naga City are placed in the yellow or surveillance zone.

Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Mary Rose Vincoy explained that places in the green zone are still allowed to transport pig and pork-related products to the infected and areas under surveillance but only for entry approach.

Meanwhile, Cebu City councilor Pastor Jun Alcover joins the call of the City’s Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF) for local hog raisers here to be cooperative and proactive in the prevention of the African Swine Flu (ASF).

Alcover, who chairs the committee on agriculture and rural development said, hog-raisers, even those in their backyards must report to their respective barangays should they feel that their pigs are sick.

Earlier, DVMF head Dr. Jessica Maribojoc said that they are intensifying their border controls already, especially in the South, but are also looking at re-establishing its control points in the northern side of the city as well.

“Katong mga nagbuhi ug baboy ug tan-aw ninyo nagsakit na gyud, inform na gyud ninyo ang nearest agriculture office or veterinarian if naa mo kay once nag positive na siya nya inyong ipaihaw, naay tendency na mukalat na siya..So kailangan ma-control na siya para di na mokalat,” said Maribojoc. —Caecent No-ot Magsumbol, Sanden Anadia (FREEMAN)

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