By Calvin Cordova
CEBU CITY — Mayor Edgardo Labella is standing firm by his decision to lift the ban on the entry into the city of pork products and byproducts from Mindanao and Luzon.
Labella said the Executive Order No. 72, which he issued to lift the ban, was in compliance with separate administrative orders (AOs) that were issued by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and President Duterte.
Labella said the DA issued AO No. 12 last December 10, 2019, stating that those areas considered as dark green and green zones must be exempted from the ban as part of the measures to prevent the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF).
Labella said the DA implemented stringent measures in identifying the dark green and green zones or those areas that havve not been affected by ASF.
The mayor added that the Office of the President likewise issued AO No. 22 last February 5, backing the DA’s order to provide exemptions.
“The order is very categorical. The order of the President is for the local government to fully comply with the directive and we cannot go beyond the order of DA and the President,” said Labella in a virtual press briefing yesterday.
Labella revealed that DA Secretary William Dar called him up to thank him for lifting the ban in the city.
Hog raisers in Bohol have expressed their concern over the lifting of the ban especially that the province is also sourcing some of its meat supply from Cebu City.
On Monday, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia asked Labella to reconsider his decision to protect the P11-billion hog industry in the province.
The governor likewise extended indefinitely the ban on the entry into the province of pork and pork-related products from Mindanao.
The ban was supposed to end on May 11.
Garcia said Cebu City’s lifting of the ban is ill-timed especially that the country is still dealing with the current coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
“I really, really hope that Mayor Labella will reconsider because we are already facing an enormous challenge and let us focus our energies on the current problem,” said Garcia.
Garcia said there is no need to lift the ban since the province has sufficient supply of pork.
Garcia met with the province’s ASF Task Force last Monday.
“We had that meeting because we were worried over that EO in Cebu City. There are confirmed ASF cases in Mindanao and being a one island, the virus can spread quickly there,” Garcia said.
Labella’s order to lift the ban stayed even after the City Council passed a resolution requesting him to adopt the province’s order banning the entry of pork products from Luzon, Mindanao and Eastern Visayas.