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PIA Press Release

PNP commits support to DA vs brontispa

Manila (8 October) -- The Department of Agriculture (DA) has secured the commitment of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in helping quarantine officials strictly enforce quarantine measures to contain the spread of an invasive coconut pest better known as Brontispa that now poses a grave threat to the future of the P40 billion coconut industry.

Senior Supt. Antonio Gumiran of the PNP Directorate for Operations has informed DA officials that the national police leadership had already issued a directive to its regional commands to help agriculture officials and local government units (LGUs) carry out these measures meant to prevent the coconut leaf beetle from spreading all over the country's 68 coconut-producing provinces.

Gumiran said the PNP "will also instruct its highway patrols and Maritime Group to check the possible transport or entry into the country's borders" of palm seedlings coming from areas found to be infested with the coconut leaf beetle.

President Arroyo last month issued this executive order naming the PCA as the lead office in the DA-led multiagency campaign to launch emergency measures designed to combat Brontispa. This pest, which is scientifically known as the Brontispa longgissima gestro, has so far infected over 171,000 coconut trees in 25 provinces across the country.

In a hearing of the Senate finance committee on the proposed DA budget of P25.9 billion for 2008, Angara noted that the actions taken by Yap, including his plan to harness LGUs and the PNP in the fresh government efforts to contain and eradicate the Brontispa pest, was critical to the success of this anti-pest program.

The PNP's role in helping eradicate the coconut pest forms part of the comprehensive four-pronged program drawn up by the DA and PCA to intensify ongoing efforts against this threat to the coconut industry, which is the country's primary export earner.

Undersecretary Bernie Fondevilla, who is DA chief of staff and executive director of the National Agricultural and Fisheries Council (NAFC), welcomed the PNP's assistance in stopping the Brontispa pest from passibly wiping out the domestic coconut industry.

Fondevilla, who represented Yap at the recent DA meeting with officials of the PNP and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), said a four-pronged program was drawn up, consisting of the following:

  • mapping of coconut-producing areas to determine the total extent of the Brontispa and the quarantine of areas found to be infected;
  • rolling out of inoculation protocols and procedures to swiftly address the problem in infested sites and insulate non-uninfected areas from the pest;
  • an information and education campaign to educate coconut growers on how to contain and eradicate the pest; and,
  • a livelihood component to assist farmers gravely affected by the infestation. (PIA-MMIO) [top]
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