PIA Press Release
Gov't intensifies fight vs brontispa pest
By Renee F. De Guzman
San Fernando City, La Union (11 October) -- Amid the grave threat posed by the invasive coconut pest better known as Brontispa to the P40 billion coconut industry, the government has intensified the campaign to combat the virus.
The pest, which is scientifically known as Brontispa longgissima gestro, has so far infected over 171,000 coconut trees in 25 provinces across the country.
Coconut accounts for the largest physical farm area of 3.3 million hectares (33 percent) and host to among the poorest of the poor in the country.
President Arroyo last month issued Executive Order 664 naming the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) as the lead agency in the DA- led multi-agency campaign to launch emergency measures designed to fight Brontispa.
Earlier Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap created a Bronstispa action team which has been implementing series of measures to contain the spread of the coconut pest, but a more comprehensive program has now become necessary to totally eradicate the virus that is now threatening to obliterate the domestic coconut industry.
To intensify the ongoing efforts against the pest, DA and PCA have drawn a comprehensive four-pronged program which includes the active involvement of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Local Government Units (LGUs). It consists the following activities:
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 uninfected areas from the pest;
Information and education campaign to educate coconut growers on how to contain and eradicate the pest;
a livelihood component to assist farmers gravely affected by the infestation
The PNP's involvement in the campaign is very crucial especially in helping quarantine officials and local government units to enforce quarantine measures to contain the spread of the pest.
Senior Supt. Antonio Gumiran of the PNP Directorate for Operations assured DA officials for their commitment even as he 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."
As part of the anti-Brontispa emergency steps, the DA has put under quarantine Metro Manila and 26 provinces infested with the coconut leaf beetle, and prohibited movements of coconut seed nuts and seedlings from these infected to non-infected places unless covered by transport permits issued by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) certifying that these have gone through strict quarantine measures.
Under Special Quarantine Order No. 1 issued by the BPI and approved by Yap, the department of has likewise banned imports of palm seed nuts and seedlings from over two dozen countries with reported Brontispa infestations.
The provinces placed under quarantine are Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Aurora, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, Quezon, Rizal, Southern Palawan, Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Iloilo, Aklan, Guimaras, Bohol, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Zambaonga, Bukidnon and Davao.
Imports from countries still known to be free from this beetle infestation are allowed under this BPI order, provided that importers comply with strict quarantine measures.
Covered by the import ban are Guangdong Province of Mainland China, Hainan Islands, Hongkong and Taiwan ROC, Maldives, parts of Southeast Asia, namely: Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam; and Parts of Oceania, namely: American Samoa, French Polynesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Northern Mariana Island, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, Western Samoa and Queensland and Northern Territory of Australia. (PIA La Union) [top]