Stricter rules on hogs: Lechon makers feel the brunt

CEBU, Philippines — Small-time pork suppliers in Cebu are already feeling the impact of the heightened regulations on pork and pork products from outside the province, which is reputed to be the lechon capital of the Philippines.

Last week, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia signed Executive Order 15, which bans live hogs from areas in Luzon like Rizal and Quezon affected by the African swine fever, and all pork and pork-related products from Luzon.

The ban also included stricter regulation from all outside sources of pork. Those who wish to export pork to Cebu now have to present five additional documents.

Henry Llaguno who operates a small-time lechon house says he has already turned down 100 orders as of yesterday, including the opportunity to supply for a mass wedding in Cebu City.

By doing so, he has lost an estimated P200,000.

“Sa mga negosyante, apektado mi ana… pait kaayo ni (We business owners are affected… this is bad),” Llaguno said.

He said he may resort to buying live hogs from piggeries in the province, something that he said is not ideal because the price of live hogs here is reportedly more expensive by at least P500 and up to P1,000 than those in Negros.

Nevoj Bascon who operates a lechon business and who supplies live hogs to lechon houses in Talisay City shares Llaguno’s sentiments.

Over the past four days, he reportedly turned down orders for lechon and has lost at least P15,000 in profit.

“Wala naman namo gipangdawat maayo ang mga order so nangita na mi daan ug baboy before modawat ug order (We have stopped accepting orders. We are looking for sources of pigs first),” Bascon said.

Another lechon business owner in Talisay City, Gabriel Bonjoc, they went into panic- buying mode since news of the stricter ban on live hogs and pork products broke out.

“Mag-apas na man mi sa baboy. Kagahapon lang gyud nag-start (We have gone after the hogs more aggressively starting yesterday),” he said.

Supply of live hogs was already reportedly low even before EO 15 was enforced.

“Katong mga baboy nga maabot unta pag Saturday morning, gipangbalik man to,” Bonjoc said, referring to truckload of hogs from Negros that was shipped back to the island after it was intercepted at the Tangil Warf in Dumajug town.

The 150 hogs were not covered by a Livestock Handlers’ Permit, Farm Registration, Livestock Transport/ Carrier Registration, Vehicle Registration, and Disinfection Clearance.

But the demand for lechon has reportedly declined since news of the ASF cases in the Philippines broke out and Bonjoc said they also predict a massive shortage in the demand for pork.

Last week, Department of Agriculture-7 Director Salvador Diputado assured that the African swine fever has not entered Central Visayas. He called on the local government to ensure that pork and pork products from ASF-stricken areas in Luzon and other countries will not enter Cebu.

Cebu is considered a top pork supplier in the Visayas and fourth in the Philippines.

ASF is a highly contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs that has no cure and no vaccine. Mortality rates are as high as 100 percent.

According to the World Oranization for Animal Health, ASF can be transmitted through direct contact with infected pigs, ingestion of contaminated materials such as food waste, feed or garbage, or contaminated fomites or biological vectors. (FREEMAN)



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