Cebu News

Gwen to BAI execs: Face charges if you test pigs

Le Phyllis F. Antojado-Orillaneda - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Capitol officials have threatened to file cases against officials of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) who will continue the "indiscriminate testing" of swine as part of the Department of Agriculture's control measure against the deadly African Swine Fever (ASF).

Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said testing shall only be done if a pig manifests symptoms of ASF or the classical swine fever (hog cholera).

She issued an executive order establishing biosecurity and control measures against ASF where the trained Municipal Agriculturist or city veterinarian or authorized personal are the only ones allowed to collect samples from the blood, serum, tissue or any organ or the pig to determine if it has ASF or hog cholera.

Garcia also issued a memorandum yesterday supporting her recently issued EO.

"In view thereof, no person, entity,  or any other government agency shall be allowed to conduct ASF testing, random or otherwise, on pigs other than the above-mentioned personnel," read part of the governor's memorandum addressed to the mayors and Philippine National Police (PNP) in the province who are called upon to monitor its strict implementation.

Provincial Legal Officer Donato Villa said officials who will violate the executive order and memorandum of the Governor may face charges.

"It would seem that BAI, despite the fact that the good Governor has already issued that executive order, has continued its indiscriminate testing without going through the Province of Cebu. So with this if there's any violation and in fact the PNP is already being directed to enforce the executive order and the memorandum, they might be charged with violation of this memorandum or executive order and then be charged with criminal offense under the Revised Penal Code," Villa said.

"We will also file administrative charges, especially with the fact that we had already said many times already. It is their obligation as a national agency before going to implement any program and policies, they have to go through the province of Cebu because in implementing those policies and programs they are affecting the constituents of the province," Villa added.

No ASF outbreak

Garcia also denied that there's an "outbreak" of ASF in the Province.

"To declare an outbreak in Cebu is a very irresponsoble statemnt, especially since you have not defined the parameters of what an outbreak is and especially since your methodology of testing is suspicious,  to say the least. But such declaration has this immediate impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Cebuanos. And that is why we will hold you accountable with that kind of statement," Garcia said.

Oplan Baboy

In Cebu City, Mayor Michael Rama issued yesterday Executive Order No. 5 called Oplan Baboy for a broad campaign to combat ASF, provide protection to local hog raisers, and ensure an adequate supply of pork in the city while addressing the socio-economic impact of this public concern.

Since January of this year, the local government has been setting up a Hog Challenge 24/7 Incident Command Post and control points at the borders of the  for the protection of the local hog industry.

According to the mayor, the city prepared with the multisectoral convergence of representatives of the hog industry.

 Task Force, veterinarians, backyard, and commercial hog raisers also met to have a practical approach to combat the situation especially when it talks about economic impact.

"The convergence group identified and characterized the City of Cebu as more of a consumer and not a producer in the hog supply chain and backyard hog raising are mostly located in the City's upland barangays only. Further, it was reverberated that the said swine disease has no known effect on humans but has fatal effects on hogs. Hence, the current challenge in the hog industry is one of socio-economic significance but not health," the EO stated.

 It added that local backyard hog raisers must also be trained on how to intensify biosecurity to protect the hog industry and to repopulate.

The EO also mandates a massive information and education campaign relative to the nature and effects of this situation shall be conducted within the territorial jurisdiction of the City of Cebu which shall be primarily led by the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF) and the City Agriculture Department (CAD).

Oplan Baboy highlights bottoms-up and holistic approach and must be adopted to ensure that every activity should start from the household.

"For this purpose, distribution of information materials like leaflets must be done in strategic areas," the EO stated.

Section 3 of the EO mentions that DVMF and CAD shall profile and conduct a comprehensive inventory, surveillance and monitoring of all hogs and hog raisers existing and operating within the city  including those handled  by individuals, association and commercial hog raisers for the prevention and early detection of the disease as well as to protect the hog industry.

The special Task Force is composed of the head of the Local School Board, Youth Development Office, Interfaith Group and Kapisanan ng mga Broadcasters ng Pilipinas (KBP). All existing national and local issuances and implementing rules relative to the preservation of swine, must be executed from the household to city level. In advancing the same, a friendly approach must be observed to foster stakeholders and public cooperation.

However, lechon, chicharon, ham, longganisa, hotdogs, and canned meat from any zones can enter as long as they have documents and which has been subjected to temperature of at least seventy (70) degrees Celsius for thirty (30) minutes.

 Those affected hog raisers are encouraged to try alternative livestock production like cow, carabao, goat, rabbit, and chicken.

 The mayor reminded the CAD and DVMF to check possible resources for that matter.

"All existing national and local issuances and implementing rules relative to the preservation of swine, must be executed from the household to city level. In

advancing the same, a friendly approach must be observed to foster stakeholders and public cooperation," the EO added.

According to the chief of DVMF, Dr. Jessica Maribojoc, they will continue putting up the control points.

Maribojoc pointed out that the supply of meat in the City is still adequate, but added that they will still accept pigs from commercial suppliers as long as they have sufficient documents.

 "Our aim is swine preservation and keep our hog industry vibrant economically, while we address the socio-economic impact of this public concern, especially to the backyard raisers. Through our City Agriculture Department, efforts will now be directed at promoting alternative livestock raising," Rama said.

The mayor added, "Let us all do our part in being a part of the solution to this current challenge. Always together, let us make the right things happen for Cebu City."

 Even though a case of ASF has been detected, Cebu City remains a green zone. The eight cases that were detected were said to have originated from another place.  – Sanden J. Anadia, JMD (FREEMAN)


  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with