Garcia sues 5 animal bureau, DA execs

(Photo by PAC)
(Photo by PAC)

CEBU Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia formally filed a case before the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, against five officials of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) for violations of Republic Act (RA) 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and RA 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991.

RA 7160 transferred control and responsibility for delivering basic services to the hands of local government units (LGUs).

Lawyer Isis Jane Capangpangan from the Office of the Provincial Attorney endorsed the case to hold the BAI officers accountable for their policy against African swine fever (ASF) where pigs that were not ill were slaughtered to stop the spread of the infection.

Charged are BAI Director Paul Limson; Dr. Samuel Joseph Castro, deputy program coordinator; Dr. Joshua Cruz, BAI coordinator on ASF; Dr. Miriam Lopez Vito of the Regional Veterinary Quarantine Station, and Dr. Daniel Ventura Jr., Department of Agriculture 7 coordinator on ASF.

Garcia said the respondents should be held administratively liable because they showed partiality, obvious bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence and caused unwarranted harm to any party, including the government, among others.

“In the end, it is not the African swine fever that kills but the incompetence and inefficiency of public servants as demonstrated in the acts of respondents,” Garcia said.

In her affidavit, the governor said the BAI repeatedly announced earlier this March that the ASF had entered the province and attempted to depopulate pigs by culling those found within a 500-meter radius of an affected area, particularly in Barangay Can-asujan in Carcar City, to stop the spread of the virus.

Garcia accused the BAI officials of not doing a differential diagnosis to validate that the ASF virus was present in the localities of Carcar and not any other virus or infections, among others.

Because of this, she issued two memorandums that prohibited culling within a 500-meter radius and warned national agencies, especially the Department of Agriculture, to coordinate with local government units in the planning and execution of their programs and projects.

Garcia, however, said the BAI staff persisted with their culling and zoning map policies in spite of her directive, affecting the livelihood of hog farmers.

Garcia cited the statement of Rolando Tambago, president of the Central Visayas Pork Producers Cooperative, that up to five million pigs in the country have already been killed, of which four million died not because they were infected with ASF but because of the culling policy. (PAC, TPT)

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