DA-7: Cebu governor’s policies vs ASF an eye-opener  

CEBU CITY – An eye-opener.

This was how the regional director of the Department of Agriculture-Central Visayas (DA-7) described the policies that Gov. Gwen Garcia is implementing to stem the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) disease in Cebu.

Angel Enriquez expressed support to Garcia's ASF-related policies even if they go against the policy set by the DA Central Office and the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).  

“To be very honest, what the Cebu province is doing right now would be an eye-opener to all the provinces and even to the Bureau of Animal Industry. This is now the ample time to reevaluate the protocols that have been there,” said Enriquez during a meeting that Garcia presided over on Tuesday, March 21, at the Capitol Social Hall.

The meeting that was attended by mayors, board members, and officials of various government agencies tackled the measures that Cebu will be taking to help prevent the spread of ASF.

Confirmed ASF cases have been detected in the cities of Carcar and Bogo in the towns of Sibonga, Tuburan, and Liloan. 

After the meeting, Garcia issued an executive order (EO) enumerating local protocols in the handling of ASF and other diseases affecting hogs.

In her EO, Garcia prohibited BA from conducting further "indiscriminate" testing of hogs throughout the province. 

The governor said she is doubting the credibility of the processes in the tests conducted by the BAI, the reason why the provincial government will conduct its own tests on hogs manifesting symptoms and further confirmatory evaluations.

Garcia said the suspension of culling of hogs will remain.

She directed the Cebu Police Provincial Office to stop BAI personnel from culling pigs located within 500 meters of ASF-affected areas.

Garcia also created the Barangay African Swine Fever Task Force in over 1,000 barangays throughout the province. 

The task force will monitor biosecurity measures and profiling of all backyard raisers to maintain proper disinfection and reporting of infected pigs.

The task force will regularly report to the town or city governments which will relay information to the Provincial Veterinary Office.

Garcia also lifted restrictions on the movement of pigs imposed by the DA and BAI within Cebu and its corresponding color-coded infection map.

The governor said BAI will not be allowed to impose color-coding in the province.

"We will give you (BAI) free crayons because you will not be able to do that color-coding scheme here in the island of Cebu," Garcia said.