Gwen: Department of Agriculture underreacting on ASF threat

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia (SunStar File Photo)

IF LOCAL officials like herself had been described as “overreacting” on concerns involving the African swine fever (ASF), Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said the Department of Agriculture (DA) was “underreacting” on the matter.

The governor made the pronouncement as she stood pat that the 100-day temporary ban on the entry of live hogs, pork-related products and byproducts from Luzon would remain in effect in the province.

This, despite requests from DA Secretary William Dar to reconsider her ban and think instead of the national interest.

“This was the secretary of DA himself who said that I was overreacting and I say guilty as charged. But you see, when it comes to the interest of the province and the Cebuanos, I would rather overreact and as I have always stated, if we must err, let us err on the side of caution. I believe that my overreacting is called for at this point in time when I see by the ensuing events from the first hog death (July 25) and thereafter, how events have quickly unfolded, I am seeing the DA underreacting for the country and that is very, very dangerous,” Garcia said on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019.

Garcia lamented that while she understood where Dar was coming from, she hoped he would also see her point of view.

The governor has issued six executive orders (EO), all laying preventive measures to protect Cebu’s hog industry and top meat source against the ASF virus, which is fatal to pigs.

Cebu’s volume of pork production is placed at 4.33 percent, contributing P10.98 billion to the country’s agriculture industry every year.

Pork takes up 85 percent of Cebu’s meat source. Chicken, fish and beef take up 15 percent.

The governor recently issued EO 16, which amended earlier EOs, to totally ban the entry of live hogs, pork, pork-related products, byproducts and boar semen from Luzon into Cebu for 100 days.

The move came after the DA confirmed an ASF outbreak in seven areas in Bulacan and Rizal in Luzon.

“Let me assure the good secretary that like him, I have also balanced all of the interests involved. In fact, the Cebu media is very much aware of how very carefully I have proceeded from the very first EO that I issued when at that time, the DA was in denial,” Garcia said.

She said that Section 465 of the Local Government Code provides that the governor, as the chief executive of the provincial government, shall exercise such powers and perform such duties and functions for efficient, effective and economical governance the purpose of which is the general welfare. (RTF)


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