CEBU, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) – Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) announced on Monday, March 20, that African Swine Fever (ASF) has been detected in Cebu City, and the municipalities of Liloan, Sibonga, Tuburan, and Bogo City, all in Cebu province.
The BAI said samples were taken from backyard farms by local government units (LGUs) in Cebu as part of a series of disease investigations and surveillance.
Cebu City, one of the major cities of Metro Cebu, has already enforced a city-wide ban on the movement of pork products.
The BAI announcement comes three days after Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia asked officials of the Department of Agriculture in Central Visayas (DA7) to stop the culling of pigs in the province, calling it a “nonsensical policy.”
The discovery of the new ASF cases comes almost two weeks after Cebu Provincial Veterinarian Mary Rose Vincoy on March 5 confirmed the presence of ASF in Carcar City.
Garcia had immediately imposed a ban on shipments of pork and pork products after Vincoy’s announcement.
“The BAI continues to coordinate with DA Regional Field Office VII and LGUs to gather data and reports on other areas with suspected cases of ASF as part of a traceback investigation to determine the extent of the outbreak in the province,” the agency said.
The BAI cited the recommendation of the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), for the depopulation or culling of affected and exposed swine within a one-kilometer radius.
Currently, the national government has reduced the depopulation area to 500 meters. It directed BAI to implement the depopulation protocol through the National ASF Prevention and Control Program (NASFPCP).
“We understand that the affected farmers are sacrificing their livelihood and we appreciate their selflessness to follow the protocols in place. This sacrifice does not go in vain as we work diligently and work hand in hand with you, our stakeholders, in protecting the hog industry,” BAI wrote in their statement.
Garcia’s no-culling order came after 140 pigs had been killed in an attempt to halt the spread of ASF.
In Memorandum No. 6 – 2023, Garcia formally announced that no culling of pigs can be allowed without prior approval from the provincial government of Cebu.
“The PNP, through the Chiefs of Police, are called upon to strictly monitor and see to it that this Memorandum is followed,” read Garcia’s memorandum.
ASF does not affect human beings. But the highly contagious viral disease can swiftly decimate swine populations, devastating agriculture-based economies. There is no known vaccine against ASF.
A day after Garcia issued her memo, the DA7 said in a statement that it would commit its resources to the Cebu provincial government and support its direction.
“Our shared and harmonized actions are to mitigate the impact and spread of the viral swine disease,” the statement read.
During their Monday flag ceremony, Carcar City Mayor Patric Barcenas assured residents that the city government would provide financial assistance to hog raisers affected by ASF.
“Naningkamot ta nga makahatag gyud. Unya sa culling, naningkamot ta nga dili macull/mapatay inyong mga baboy kay porbida kadakog bayranan,” Barcenas said.
(We’re working hard to really give. And on the culling, we’re working hard that there won’t be a culling/killing of your pigs because the costs are horrid.) – Rappler.com
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