By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and Victorias City Mayor Javi Benitez, Association of Chief Executives-Negros Occ president, “clashed” on the recent burning of an estimated P1.4 million worth of table eggs intercepted at the BREDCO port here.
Lacson on Monday told reporters that he respects the sentiments of Benitez.
Benitez, son of Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, admitted being dismayed by the burning of 240,000 pieces of table eggs.
The seizure and burning of the eggs were part of the precautionary measures of the provincial government of Negros Occidental and Bacolod City in the fight against Avian Influenza, commonly known as Bird Flu.
Benitez said he was dismayed by the disposal of the eggs as these “can still be eaten by humans.”
“They should be donated to those who are in need of food,” Benitez said.
He added that he cannot afford to be silent on the issue as he also wanted to express his sentiments.
On February 5, a composite team of the Bacolod City Veterinary Office, the Provincial Veterinary Office, and the Bureau of Animal Industry of the Department of Agriculture-Western Visayas, confiscated and burned 240,000 pieces of table eggs that came from Bantayan, Cebu via trailer truck.
Bacolod City Veterinarian Dr. Maria Agueda dela Torre stood firm on her decision to burn the table eggs saying that the documents presented to them were fake.
“The disposal of 8,000 trays from Bantayan, Cebu seized by the City and Provincial Veterinary Offices, BQS-BAI, and Department of Agriculture, is in accordance with the Joint Executive Order of Bacolod City and the Province of Negros Occidental,” according to Bacolod City Legal Officer Romeo Carlos Ting Jr.
Cebu though is not included in the banned areas in line with the campaign against Bird Flu and ASF in Bacolod City and Negros Occidental.
Negros Occidental has imposed a total ban on the entry of live birds and poultry products such as meat and eggs from areas affected by the highly pathogenic avian influenza or bird flu, including Panay and Guimaras, as well as Luzon and Mindanao.
Lacson also backed the decision of the City Veterinarian Office “simply because there was no proof where the eggs came from.”
Negros Occidental and Bacolod City have also banned the entry of live pigs and pork products from the neighboring Panay and Guimaras Islands due to cases of African swine fever (ASF) reported in those areas.
“We should not distribute these eggs in our province, simply because of its questionable origin,” Lacson said, as he further stressed that “Avian Flu is still a concern.”
“In the first place, these eggs were not supposed to be here,” the governor pointed out.
He said he has not talked with Benitez pointing out that “I guess through media Mayor Benitez will know my sentiments in the same manner that through media I have learned about his sentiments.”
The governor also reiterated that the provincial government is very serious in the campaign against Avian Influenza and ASF.
“We are against anything that will threaten our livelihood whether it is pork or chicken, which we will continue to protect, we must remember that losing this industry will have a very long-term effect on the province,” Lacson said.
He reiterated “we can’t afford to take chances.”
The governor also brushed off that the issue has caused a conflict with Benitez.
“He is just expressing his sentiments,” he said.
Negros Occidental has a P8-billion poultry industry and is among the top poultry-producing provinces in the country.
Negros Occidental and Bacolod City remain Avian Influenza free, according to the Provincial and City Veterinarian Office.