CONTROL points will remain and color-coding will still be followed in Cebu City to regulate the entry of hogs amid the detection of African swine fever (ASF) in six areas in the province, but Barili town in southwestern Cebu will relax its protocols by resuming the trading of live hogs.
The two local government units (LGUs) announced their decisions on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, a day after Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia nullified the ASF color-coding scheme of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and lifted border controls within the territorial jurisdiction of the Province of Cebu, which does not include the cities of Cebu and Lapu-Lapu.
Garcia said there is no basis for the declaration of an ASF outbreak in Cebu.
Despite the contrasting policies, Cebu City Veterinarian Dr. Jessica Maribojoc assured the City’s decision will not be in conflict with the Province’s.
Maribojoc also said the measures implemented in the province are beneficial to the city as they allow more supply, which could possibly result in lower prices of pork products in the market.
The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) National Zoning and Movement Plan for the Prevention and Control of African Swine Fever provides the rules for the movement of swine products across the different colored zones that classify LGUs according to risk of ASF transmission.
Under this zoning and movement plan, the red (infected) zone refers to cities and towns with confirmed ASF outbreaks; the pink (buffer zone) refers to the areas immediately around the red zone; yellow (surveillance) zone refers to LGUs adjacent to the pink zones; and the light green (protected) and dark green (free) zones represent moderate risk and low risk areas, respectively, for ASF transmission.
Garcia made a policy different from the DA’s after she questioned its findings of ASF in Carcar pigs.
Last Monday, the BAI announced that ASF had been detected in five more areas in the province of Cebu: Cebu City, Liloan, Sibonga, Tuburan and Bogo City.
Two weeks earlier, the DA 7 had announced the detection of ASF in pigs in Carcar City, prompting bans on Carcar pork by all the other LGUs in Cebu.
But on Wednesday, Garcia said there was no ASF outbreak in Cebu.
“There is no outbreak. What in God’s name is a basis for an outbreak?” Sugbo News quoted her as saying. “You are not seeing thousands upon thousands of pigs dying,” she said, which is believed to happen when ASF is present.
On Wednesday, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama released measures and protocols that the City will implement through Executive Order (EO) 5, series of 2023 entitled “Oplan Baboy.”
The executive order directs the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries (DVMF) to continue and intensify the disease investigation and surveillance, as well as the monitoring of the transport and movement of live hogs, pork and pork products to and from Cebu City.
The EO stipulates that hogs from duly registered commercial farms are permitted to enter the city as long as documentary requirements are complied with.
Maribojoc said hogs coming from infected (red), buffer (pink), surveillance (yellow) and protected (light green) zones, except for those coming from registered commercial farms which can provide certification, are still not allowed.
Rama’s latest order appears to relax the restrictions Cebu City earlier placed on the entry of pork to the city following the discovery of ASF in Carcar last March 1.
Last March 9, Cebu City Agriculturist Joey Baclayon said the City was banning live hogs, pork products and byproducts from the infected to the protected zones, covering 17 of Cebu’s 53 LGUs, without making an explicit exception for hogs coming from commercial farms.
Rama’s EO 5 also allows the entry of cooked and processed pork products from any zones which have been subjected to temperature of at least 70 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes including lechon, chicharon, ham, longganisa, hotdogs and canned meat, subject to random inspection.
Despite the detection of ASF cases in a backyard farm located in the city, Maribojoc said Cebu City remains to be tagged as a “green zone.”
The City also encourages farmers to raise alternative livestock like carabao, chicken or rabbit for the next six months while the entire country still battles the highly contagious and deadly African swine fever.
Rama’s executive secretary, Collin Rosell, said the City Government will be closely communicating with hog raisers in the city to assist and guide them in growing alternative livestock, adding that the City will not resort to directly providing financial assistance.
Maribojoc said most of the farmers in the city are backyard breeders, which means they grow and sell only hogs, which Rosell seconded since Cebu City is considered more of a consumer than a producer of hogs.
The DVMF estimates the pig population in the city to be 11,000.
Other stipulations in Rama’s executive order:
The DVMF and the City Agriculture Department will conduct a comprehensive inventory, surveillance, and monitoring of all hogs and hog raisers existing and operating in the city; and lead a massive information and education campaign (IEC) in the city about ASF;
The Cebu City Task Force, composed of the heads of the Local School Board, Youth Development Office, inter-faith groups, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, and other offices that the mayor may include, is expanded to better carry out the inventory, monitoring, surveillance, and IEC in relation to ASF.
Since the detection of ASF in a backyard farm in the city, Maribojoc said 12 pigs have been culled.She said the 12 pigs had been placed in the same pig pen and were culled after blood samples of eight other pigs there tested positive for ASF.
In Barili town, the trading of live hogs in the Mantalongon Livestock Market will return on Thursday, March 23, Mayor Pablo John Garcia IV said more than a week after he ordered its suspension.
This is in concurrence with the policy of Governor Garcia nullifying the color-coding scheme of the national government, and lifting the border controls on the movement of live hogs in Cebu.
“I’m thankful for this development, for Gov. Gwen’s brave move because trading is a very big part of the livelihood of the residents of Mantalongon and Barili,” said Mayor Garcia in Cebuano.
In a statement on Wednesday, he ordered the hog traders to first secure a veterinary health certificate for their backyard swine farm from the Municipal or Provincial Veterinary Office.
Following the first detection of ASF in Cebu in Carcar, Mayor Garcia had suspended swine trading at the Mantalongon livestock market starting March 16, since the town had been placed under the buffer (pink) zone.
He said Mantalongon is the biggest livestock market in Cebu province and every Thursday, traders and farmers from other towns of Cebu as well as Negros and Leyte met in Barili.
The locals call it “tabo” or market day in Mantalongon, where thousands of pigs, chickens, goats, cattle and other products are sold. (with CTL)