Editorial: Not a chance

Editorial Cartoon by Josua Cabrera

IT NOW appears our island is sealing itself safe from viruses on many fronts—one, the evolving and rechristened Covid-19; and two, the African swine fever (ASF). By some stretch of the imagination, we’re kind of a Hindu goddess with many hands parrying multiple evil assaults.

Early this month, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported cases of the ASF in Davao Occidental. Quite a long curve, you can say, to the south with the Luzon farms as point of origin. That Cebu is ASF-free to this day proves the Provincial Government’s ban on pork and related products beyond question.

The DA drew samples from around 1,000 dead pigs in Don Marcelino town in Davao Occidental and found they were ASF-positive, thus declaring the first confirmed cases of the hog disease in Mindanao.

Yesterday, Feb. 12, the Cebu Provincial Government announced it will intensify its efforts to seal the province from the entry of the ASF, this time covering all pork and related products from Mindanao.

“We know that Mindanao is an island. It would be very easy to cross borders from one province to the next, and we know that this bacteria can easily be transmitted through clothing, tires of vehicles and grass. That is why we’re also prohibiting the entry of commingled products,” Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said in a SunStar Cebu report.

Last week, on Feb. 3, Garcia issued Executive Order 4, Series of 2020, prohibiting the entry of pork, boar semen, pork-related products and by-products from Region 11 or the Davao Region in Southern Mindanao.

While at this, DA 7 Director Salvador Diputado cautioned the governor against expanding the ban, which now covers the entire island of Mindanao.

He said the ban does not quite comply with DA Administrative Circular 12, Series 2019, which instructs local executives to strictly implement the “National Zoning and Movement Plan for African Swine Fever.”

Under the zoning plan, the DA classified areas into color-coded “free zones” and “hot zones” as guide to regulate the movement of pork and pork products around the country.

“Trading within the areas classified as green is free and it should not be hindered, stopped or prevented. That means that trading between some parts of Mindanao that are still green is allowed,” said Diputado.

The regional director said all local government ordinances must adhere to provisions of the zoning order. Well and good.

However, while following the zoning rule is right, erring on the side of further caution is far commendable. That the ASF already downed farms in areas in Mindanao already proved that being consistent with the DA zoning is simply weak; while clean Cebu proves the latter right. Never ever leave a P10.9 billion hog industry to chance.


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