DESPITE a surge in demand for pork as the holidays approach, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the ban on the importation of hogs, pork and pork-based products from Luzon and Mindanao will not be lifted.
Garcia said she wants to ensure that the P11-billion hog industry in Cebu will remain free from African swine fever (ASF), a highly contagious disease affecting pigs.
“The reason there is now a spike in demand is because in 22 provinces in Luzon, ASF has again struck,” Garcia said in a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.
She said traders and consumers in Metro Manila are getting their pork supply from Cebu because of this new outbreak in Luzon. Cebu is the fourth largest pork-producing province in the Philippines.
“This is all because we have, inspite of all opposition and even threats, insisted on keeping Cebu ASF-free by implementing measures to see to it that ASF will not be able to enter the Province of Cebu,” Garcia said.
Paul Holaysan, president of the Central Visayas Pork Producers Cooperative (Cevippco), welcomed Garcia’s decision not to lift the ban considering that an ASF outbreak was recently confirmed in Iligan City.
The Department of Agriculture in Northern Mindanao (DA 10) confirmed Monday, Nov. 16, the first ASF cases in backyard farms in Brgy. Pugaan, Iligan City.
“We fully support our governor. As long as there is risk, we have to protect our province,” Holaysan said.
“We have to continue to be vigilant since many Cebuanos depend on the pork industry as their (source of) livelihood, directly and indirectly,” he added.
Dr. Mary Rose Vincoy, head of the Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO), said they have continuously monitored ports of entry despite the imposition of stringent quarantine restrictions against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
She assured that there is adequate pork supply in Cebu even with the projected rise in demand during the Christmas holidays.
“Actually according to Cevippco, we have a lot of supply because many hotels closed temporarily because of the pandemic,” Vincoy said.
The Provincial Government will also continue to implement biosecurity measures to ensure that raw materials for hog feeds are ASF-free.
“We allow shipments of corn and other raw materials for feeds from Mindanao, but these are subject to quarantine,” Garcia said.
Garcia said she earlier reached an agreement with feed mill operators to reduce the quarantine period for corn and other ingredients to 15 days from the initial 20 days, upon submission of certain documents.
Garcia first prohibited the entry of pork and pork-related products, including frozen boar semen, in August 2019. She later included live hogs in the ban and other food products commingled with pork and pork-based products from Luzon.
The ban was expanded in February 2020 to cover live hogs, pork and pork-related products initially from Davao region and, later, from all areas in Mindanao for 90 days.
In May 2020, Garcia extended the ban for an indefinite period. (ANV / JOB)