The Capitol is expected to issue an executive order that would expand the current ban on the entry of live hog, pork and pork-related products into the province, broadening the coverage to also include Mindanao on top of Luzon.
Governor Arthur Yap imposed the initial ban in August last year in a bid to thwart the spread of the African swine fever (ASF), which cases of were first reported in Luzon. Spread of the ASF in the region started to wane at the onset of 2020, but the fatal hog-borne disease made a comeback reaching the shores of Mindanao, particularly a swine farm at a remote village in Davao Occidental.
According to provincial veterinarian Dr. Stella Marie Lapis, the issuance of the EO is imminent as members of the province’s ASF Task Force was convened on Sunday to discuss the ASF’s resurgence particularly as the disease breached a different region.
The ASF Task Force pushed for the EO to be issued during the meeting led by Provincial Board Member Ricky Masamayor who represented acting Governor Rene Relampagos and was attended by various concerned agencies including the Provincial Legal Office.
Lapis however said that they already started to impose the ban even without the EO stressing the province’s seriousness in preventing the entry of the deadly disease.
“Maggama pa og basehan sa atong ban through the executive order pero sa pagkakaron kay wala pa man pud mogawas, gi-instruct na nato ang atong mga taw na stricter g’yud na monitoring na dili g’yud makasulod kay nakahibaw na man pud ang taga Mindanao na naapektuhan na sila,” she said.
The EO is expected to be released within the day or on Wednesday, she added.
Even with the outbreaks in Luzon and Mindanao, Bohol continues to be ASF free amid the heightened monitoring and stringent quarantine measures at the province’s airport and seaports.
The outbreak has so far only affected Davao Occidental but Lapis noted that since Mindanao is mostly one large landmass, the disease could spread quickly within the island prompting the ASF Task Force to push for the ban to cover the entire region.
“Dili pareha aning atoa na isla-isla, sila usa ka body of land, landlocked sila so mao ng atong coverage ang whole Mindanao kay basin nanagan na ng baboy gikan sa Davao, nangadto na bisag asa,” she said.
The Department of Agriculture confirmed on Friday last week that the disease hit the town of Don Marcelino after samples drawn from around 1,000 dead pigs in the municipality tested positive for ASF.
Yap’s initial ban on swine and pork products from Luzon which was momentarily controversial as it was projected to hit the national hog industry was first imposed in August, 2019 through an EO and was extended in December. The extension will remain effective until June, this year.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar appealed for Yap to rescind the ban but the governor instead asked for an assurance of full compensation from the national government for the damages that an ASF outbreak in Bohol would cost before he would re-allow the entry of swine from Luzon, a measure that the national government could not guarantee.
Yap, who is a former agriculture secretary, has repeatedly pointed out that his preemptive stand against ASF was made to protect the 50,000 backyard hog raisers of Bohol who partly comprise the province’s swine industry which he valued at P6 billion.
Yap also found an ally in Secretary Michael Dino, presidential assistant for the Visayas, in his efforts to block the entry of live hogs, pork and pork-related products from Luzon to Bohol.
Dino wrote President Rodrigo Duterte in October last year, informing him on the planned extension of the ban on Luzon-sourced swine and pork products to ensure that the virus is contained and will not affect the P20-billion hog industry in Central Visayas. (A. Doydora)