CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia has suggested the possibility of banning pork products and live hogs from Eastern Visayas after she learned that suppliers in the region sourced their products from Luzon.
She opened up about the issue during the Provincial African swine fever (ASF) task force meeting on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. The governor’s suggestion came as several regions surrounding Central Visayas have already lifted their ban on live hogs and pork products from Luzon.
Lifting of ban
The Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) received reports about Eastern Visayas’s lifting of its ban on pork and pork-related products pursuant to the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s order, which instructed local officials to lift the ban they had imposed on processed meat products containing pork amid the outbreak of ASF in some parts of Luzon.
Links to Eastern Visayas
This development drew concern from members of the task force since there are 12 ports in Cebu that have links to Eastern Visayas.
The region’s closest link to Cebu is the Municipality of Pilar in Camotes Island, which is only 15 to 20 minutes by boat from Ormoc City, Leyte.
Provincial Veterinarian Mary Rose Vincoy stressed the need to strengthen Cebu’s control of its ports since there is no assurance yet that hogs from Manila would not pass the port of Matnog (Sorsogon) and then enter the port of Allen (Northern Samar).
Garcia shared Vincoy’s sentiment and requested that the Cebu Port Authority coordinates with the Philippine Port Authority in tightening measures for incoming passengers from Eastern Visayas as some of them might be carrying pork products from Luzon.
“We now have a danger and risk facing Cebu on its northeastern side,” she said.
In an interview after the meeting, Garcia said she will discuss additional anti-ASF measures with representatives and officials of the National Meat Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration, and Vincoy.
“Our northeastern side of Cebu is the most vulnerable for the entry of these products coming from Region 8 that has lifted the ban of these products coming from Luzon. There is a conduit. We’re discussing now and tomorrow. Hopefully, we can come up with a more definitive regulation in so far as products coming from Leyte and Samar is concerned,” she added.
The governor issued on Nov. 6, 2019 Executive Order 23, which declares as unlawful the bringing into Cebu Province of any and all kinds of meat (chicken, beef or fish) and any kind of food product that has been stored in the same cold storage facility as pork, pork-related products and byproducts sourced from Luzon.
Garcia also extended the ban on shipments of live hogs, pork, pork-related products, by-products and boar semen from Luzon to June 30, 2020, instead of Dec. 28, 2019.
A report from the PVO revealed that the task force has shipped back 190 live hogs (P1,140,000) and confiscated 2,773 kilos of assorted pork products (P3,024,225.72) at seaports operated by local government units in the province.
The task force was also able to subject to thermal destruction 5,244.42 kilos of pork products worth P78,658.80 from separate operations from September until November 2019.
Aside from this, 5,287.42 kilos of pork products worth P1.4 million were also confiscated and/or turned over by supermarkets, wet markets and convenient stores, among others. / (RTF)