THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it intends to enforce the protocols for African Swine Fever (ASF), after receiving pushback from Cebu province following an outbreak there, with Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia refusing to agree to a cull of hogs within a given radius.

Agriculture Deputy Spokesman Rex C. Estoperez said the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) will adhere to the protocols for ASF containment set by the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

Ms. Garcia had threatened to sue officials of the BAI over its cull and border control measures for hogs.

Mr. Estoperez said, however, the DA respects the authority of governors as defined by the Local Government Code, and expressed the hope that the DA can harmonize enforcement rules with the province.

“We are not closing our doors for the harmonizing of the actions of the local government unit and our National Government because the ASF kapag kumalat ito ng todo (if it spreads far and wide), this becomes a national issue,” he said.

The WOAH and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recommend depopulation within a one-kilometer radius of any outbreak. The National Government is enforcing a 500-meter cull radius.

According to DA’s Administrative Order No. 22 Series of 2020, selective depopulation around the affected farm should be conducted within 48 hours of confirming the presence of ASF, including a total cull of all hogs testing positive.

In a briefing on Monday, Ms. Garcia said the province will file administrative charges against BAI officials for enforcing a cull of even healthy animals.

“What have we really accomplished with this culling policy? They started that in 2019 and yet ASF continues to spread. Has it been effective in stemming and containing ASF?” she said.

On March 13, Ms. Garcia ordered the suspension of culling operations in the province after an outbreak was detected in Carcar, southwest of Cebu City. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera