GOV. GWEN: NO ASF OUTBREAK IN CEBU
March 22, 2023

“May I assure the rest of the country: our pork is safe. There is no outbreak. What in God’s name is a basis for an outbreak?”

Gov. Gwen Garcia issued this strong statement in a press conference Thursday, March 22, asserting that there is no African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak in Cebu amidst growing fears about the disease due to the Bureau of Animal Industry’s (BAI) insistence that some areas in the province are now infected.

“You are not seeing thousands upon thousands of pigs dying, and certainly you will not see pigs being killed because I have prohibited that. There will be no culling in the Province of Cebu,” Gov. Gwen further emphasized.

Gov. Gwen also called for policy reform in the way the national government, particularly the BAI, is addressing the supposed ASF not only in Cebu but in the entire country by hog culling as its “most effective” method for containing the disease.

She said that since hog culling has been implemented starting in 2019, the ASF was not contained but spread to more provinces in the country instead.

She suspected that the BAI is adopting hog culling as a primary policy in order to justify the country’s continued importation of pork meat when in fact, according to government records, the country’s hog producers are still able to meet the pork demands of the nation.

She also bared that the government is spending billions of pesos to address the ASF by paying the hog growers for each pig that is culled, and for repopulation efforts after the successful depopulation drives.

These government funds, the governor insisted, could have been better spent on purchasing vaccines against hog cholera and other hog diseases and going into massive hog vaccination all over the country.

“For the Province of Cebu, we are already procuring these vaccines, and we’re targeting vaccination of up to 80 percent or even up to 100 percent of our hog population. It is important to know, and perhaps, now it’s time for some people to admit that perhaps they have been going about this the wrong way,” the governor said.

Even the regional chief of the Department of Agriculture in Region 7, Angel Enriquez, earlier supported the position of Gov. Gwen.

“What the Cebu Province is doing right now is an eye opener to all the provinces and even to the Bureau of Animal Industry. The policy has been there since it (ASF) started in 2019. This is now the time to reconsider and to reevaluate the protocols that have been there,” the DA official said during a consultative meeting yesterday.

Gov. Gwen reiterated Capitol’s move to explore science-based methodologies in addressing ASF, without resorting to culling to save the province’s billion-peso hog industry. (Carlo Lorenciana)

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