Gwen eyes ban extension on Luzon pork products

CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia may extend the ban on Luzon-sourced hogs and pork products beyond June 30, 2020, after she received reports that the African swine fever (ASF) is still not contained.

The governor made the pronouncement in an interview with reporters on the sidelines of the Sinulog Grand Parade last Sunday, Jan. 19.

“The ban was supposed to end last December. But the way I am seeing it, it’s spreading. Reports claim that the ASF has been contained, but in the meantime, we’re implementing the ban until the 30th of June 2020,” she said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

She further said: “I am too sad to hear from very reliable sources that the ASF has not been contained and in fact, it has spread to other provinces. We cannot allow our beloved Cebu to be a victim as well.”

On Nov. 6, 2019, Garcia issued Executive Order 23, which declares as unlawful the transport to 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 shipment of live hogs, pork, pork-related products, by-products and boar semen from Luzon to June 30, 2020, instead of Dec. 28, 2019.

On Sept. 16, 2019, the Provincial Board passed an ordinance imposing a minimum of P5,000 as penalty and jail term of up to six years for persons who smuggle pork and pork-related products to Cebu province from areas affected by the ASF.

During the Sinulog festivities, Garcia reminded that Cebu’s ban on pork from Luzon will remain in effect.

Her pronouncement came after Manila-based San Miguel Food and Beverage Inc., makers of Purefoods products, paid for major sponsorship of the Sinulog 2020 festival to exclusively sell their food products, including hotdogs and tocinos, in three major areas of Cebu City.

“They went to me to explain that what they were selling was made of chicken meat. I told them ‘thank you for taking the extra mile to explain because you know very well that we will not let up in our vigilance against the entry of pork and pork-related products,’” Garcia said.

Garcia also encouraged food companies to source their pork products from Cebu as the province’s P11 billion hog industry remains ASF-free.

“I told those people from San Miguel that it was time to reassess their position, as well as other Manila(-based) companies that came here to sell their finished products. There’s a possibility that I might extend the ban. As responsible food companies, prudence dictates that you must be very sure that your raw materials are ASF-free,” she said. (RTF)


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