Aquino orders agencies to put up measures vs insect infestation of coconuts

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Friday, June 6, 2014

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III has ordered the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to come up with measures to prevent the widespread scale insect infestation of coconuts in the country.

This was contained in Executive Order 169 dated June 5, 2014 establishing emergency measures to control and manage the spread and damage of aspidiotus rigidus in the Philippines and designating the PCA as the lead agency for the purpose.

Aspidiotus rigidus, an insect pest attacking plant leaves, feeding on sap directly drawn from form the plant's vascular system, with a distinct characteristic of secreting a waxy coating for defense which resembles fish scales, has been tremendously infesting bearing and non-bearing coconut trees and has devastated a significant number of coconut farms in the Calabarzon Region, the EO said.

It added that there were verified reports of scale insect infestation in other island provinces, even in the Mindanao areas, and the pest has been attacking other high-value crops (like coffee, cacao, and mangosteen) that are cultivated under coconuts or near coconut plantations.

"This massive infestation of scale insect poses a very serious threat to the coconut industry and to the livelihood of those who depend thereon," Aquino said.

Thus, he tasked the PCA to be assisted by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (OPAFSAM), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), University of the Philippines in Los Banos (UPLB) and National Crop Protection Center (NCPC), with the support of the appropriate Local Government Units (LGUs), in formulating and prescribing the necessary and appropriate emergency measures and methodologies in the treatment of infested coconut trees and other host plants.

The Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) may deputize PCA and the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement offices to investigate and apprehend those caught violating the emergency and quarantine measures, including the confiscation of unprocessed/untreated parts of coconut, coco seedlings and seednuts, and other host/vector plant, the EO said.

"No coconut leaves/fronds, young coconut and other raw or unprocessed/untreated coconut products, coco seedlings, and seedlings of other scale insect host plants shall be transported outside of barangays, municipalities or provinces duly declared under quarantine due to scale insect infestation, except when supported by a Permit to Transport duly issued by the PCA providing, among others, that appropriate preventive measures, such as washing and spraying of appropriate chemicals, have been instituted," it said.

The PCA shall have the exclusive authority to grant Permits to Transport for the shipment or movement of coconut planting materials from and to any points of the country.

The EO imposes administrative penalties for those found violating the quarantine declaration. For the first offense, there will be confiscation of the illegally transported materials; second offense, confiscation of the illegally transported materials, and payment by the violator of a fine of P1,000; and third and subsequent offenses, confiscation of the illegally transported materials, and payment by the violator of a fine of P5,000.

The responsible PCA personnel found to have permitted, allowed or otherwise tolerated any violations of the provision of the emergency measures or its implementing rules or have connived or conspired with violators shall be proceeded with administratively.

Aquino said the PCA shall allocate funds to support the nationwide implementation of the emergency measures to control and manage the infestation of Aspidiotus rigidus. (SDR/Sunnex)

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