Cebu is once again blazing trails for other LGUs to emulate after Gov. Gwen Garcia announced that Capitol would not adopt the questionable policies by national line agencies in dealing with the current issues of swine diseases in the province.
During a meeting with mayors from all over Cebu on Tuesday, March 21, the governor lifted the border control policy for swine mobility in all municipalities and component cities of the province; as well as nullified the color-coding scheme implemented by the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) in order to monitor LGUs supposedly affected by the African Swine Fever (ASF).
She also barred the indiscriminate testing of hogs by the BAI and ordered that testing should only be done on hogs that display symptoms of swine fever.
Specifically, she also directed the provincial police to defend the hogs in Cebu from the measures implemented by the BAI, such as hog culling within the 500-meter radius where the swine disease is detected.
“We will craft our own policies. We will define our own direction. Because, hello, this is the Province of Cebu!” Gov. Garcia said.
In lieu of these, the governor announced that Capitol is forming Barangay Swine Fever Task Force for all barangays in the province. It will be manned by barangay health workers, as well as barangay health aides and barangay officials who will roam around their neighborhoods monitoring the situation on the ground even down to the purok level. They will be tasked to report to the municipal or city veterinarian whenever suspected cases of swine fever are detected.
At the city and municipal levels, LGU veterinarians will also be empowered to conduct testing on hogs that display feverish symptoms. Their testing kits, which would be able to identify ASF and hog cholera, would be provided by Prime Care, a leading laboratory services provider which Capitol taps to be its partner in this endeavor.
Capitol is also implementing more stringent bio-security measures for commercial and backyard hog growers, such as penalizing swill feeding from which hogs could contract the disease; maintaining an isolation facility for suspected hog victims; and regular disinfection of pig pens.
Capitol is also allocating P1 million for each of the cities and municipalities of the Province in support of their localized implementation of Cebu’s policies and measures in combatting swine diseases.
Also present during the meeting were regional directors Angel Enriquez (Department of Agriculture 7); Dr. Jaime Bernadas (DOH 7); and Leocadio Trovela (DILG 7) who threw their support behind the localized policies of Capitol since it is the governor and the mayors who are more knowledgeable of the issues on the ground and are therefore in the best position to address them. | (Ioannes P. Arong)