Toledo City to look into reports of fly infestation in 2 barangays

Wenilyn Sabalo

THE Toledo City Government is set to investigate a poultry farm that is believed to be the cause of a fly infestation that has plagued two barangays in the past two weeks.

Gertrudes Remegia, 37, a resident of Barangay Cambang-ug where the poultry farm is located, said they’ve raised their concerns before local officials, but the problem has not been addressed.

She said two of her children have fallen ill and blamed their illness on the swarm of flies that has descended on the barangay, which she believes came from the farm.

However, Emil Oberes, the son of Jerry Oberes, the farm’s owner, denied the allegation, saying they’ve installed measures to ensure cleanliness and proper sanitation in the facility.

Cambang-ug Barangay Captain Manuel Madrid told SunStar Cebu that residents of Sitios Cambang-og, Dakit, Ongom, Ilag, Buswag, and Riversmith have been complaining about the flies.

Sitios Proper Casoy, Ongom, Mansanitas, Tunnel and Avante in the neighboring barangay of General Climaco have also been affected, according to its village chief, Richard Candilada.

Toledo City Mayor Marjorie Perales said she will have the matter investigated by the City Legal Office and the City Environment and Natural Resources Office.

Perales said that since assuming office last July, she has not issued any permit for a poultry farm and all the applications still have to be reviewed.

“There are two pending applications sometime in August or September for a business permit. These are still with my assistant city administrator since I want to know what kind of measures they plan to implement to ensure that their poultry farms do not become breeding grounds for flies since we all know that flies and poultry farms come hand in hand,” the mayor said in Cebuano.

Remegia said the swarm of flies showed up two weeks ago and has stayed.

“There are still many flies up to now. We’ve been constantly driving the flies away for the last two weeks. Many have been affected because we’re near the barangay hall and the school so there are many children,” Remegia said in Cebuano.

She and her neighbors blame the Oberes’ poultry farm, which resumed operations last September after residents petitioned to have it closed two years ago.

“We all believe the culprit is the poultry farm. It’s really dirty and we can smell it. The students and the teachers cannot concentrate on schooling because they spend most of their time driving away the flies,” she said in Cebuano.

Benjamina Pinili, another resident of Cambang-ug, said her two grandchildren got sick after the flies appeared.

“I just recovered and so did my grandchildren. We all suffered from a fever and one of my grandchildren was vomiting constantly. The doctor told us it was caused by bacteria from the flies,” she said in Cebuano.

According to the World Health Organization, flies are known to transmit diseases, including enteric infections such as dysentery, diarrhea, typhoid, cholera and helminth infections as well eye infections, poliomyelitis and certain skin infections.

Initially, the poultry farm’s barangay permit was not renewed since residents were all against its operation.

“Somehow management found a way to get approval from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) so they came and showed me their papers. So last year, the barangay and the poultry farm signed a memorandum of agreement that if it does resume operations it must use tunnel ventilation as part of the facility’s design,” Madrid said in Cebuano.

To deal with the current situation, Madrid said the barangay has come up with a resolution addressed to the mayor. He said he has yet to meet with the owner of the poultry farm.

The owner’s son Emil admitted they committed lapses years ago, but these had long been corrected before they reopened last September.

“We had the facility inspected by the DENR. We also hired additional veterinarians. There are no more flies since we also applied new chemicals to keep them away,” Emil said in Cebuano.

“There’s a possibility that the flies got out of the poultry farm when the blower malfunctioned. One of the buildings in the facility is a conventional type. So what we did is we stopped using it. We’re now only using the one with the tunnel vent,” Emil said in Cebuano.

The Oberes family welcomes any investigation as long as it is conducted by a third party. (S)