Cebu gov’t to file complaints vs. animal bureau officials over ASF issue

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 27) — The provincial government of Cebu will be filing graft and corruption complaints against local and national officials of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) over issues related to the African Swine Fever (ASF) in the province.

“We are preparing a complaint against the BAI. We are also gathering all the documents, including those statements online and in print, to be used against them for our complaint for violation of Section 3 (e) of (anti-)graft and corrupt practices act and we will be filing them tomorrow,” provincial legal officer Donato Villa said in a press briefing on Monday.

Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia, in the same briefing, accused the BAI of using ASF protocols to push for more pork meat importation, claiming it is destroying the province’s hog industry.

Garcia questioned why the BAI continues to implement culling or the depopulation of pigs that are infected or potentially infected, stating that the policy has not worked since 2019.

"Why the need to kill all the pigs? Which has now resulted in a massive deterioration of our local pork supply which now justifies the importation of pork meat," Garcia said.

"So there is more to this than meets the eye because as you continue to kill these pigs you continue to reduce our own local supply, you continue to kill our own local hog industry for the good of imported pork meat,” she added.

Garcia, however, did not present evidence to back her claim. Instead, she mentioned that even Senator Cynthia Villar questioned last January the excessive importation of pork meat when the local supply was enough.

The BAI, which is tasked with regulating the movement of livestock, is also the agency that approves the importation permit.

The governor previously ordered the suspension of culling of pigs in Carcar City and Metro Cebu, as she doubted there was ASF infection in the two areas. 

Garcia claimed that Cebu, one of the country’s major pork suppliers, had been considered an ASF-free province for four years until the BAI announced the presence of the virus earlier this March.

She further announced that the province will come up with its own ASF protocols even if the Department of Agriculture has existing policies.

CNN Philippines' Cebu-based journalist Dale Israel contributed to this story.