ILOILO CITY: The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) here is urging public support for the implementation of the national moratorium on the cutting of coconut trees, which took effect January 3.
PCA-Western Visayas Officer-in-Charge Francis Fegarido on Wednesday said that those who were given permits to cut before the moratorium took effect have until January 20 to execute their permits.
“Cutting that is done beyond the period is considered doubtful and illegal,” Fegarido said.
Last month, PCA approved 29 permits to cut covering 1,143 coconut trees. These include 12 permits for Iloilo with 568 coconut trees; one in Negros Occidental for 20 trees; five in Aklan for 255 trees; three in Capiz equivalent to 92 coconut trees and four in Antique for 208 coconut trees.
As of date, there are five pending applications from Aklan for 310 coconut trees.
Fegarido explained that the moratorium was implemented to allow the agency to harmonize and streamline the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of two laws, Republic Act 8048 and Republic Act 10593, which amended the former, aimed at preservation of coconut trees.
He stressed that even those planted in one’s backyard need a permit from PCA if the owner wishes to cut them down.
Fegarido said that Western Visayas has about 10 million fruit-bearing coconut trees and some 800,000 senile, or trees 50 years old or older.
The bulk of the plantation is in Aklan and Negros Occidental with plantations ranging from 30 to 34 hectares each. In Iloilo, the bulk is in the northern and southern part of the province.
The moratorium will end on April 2 unless extended or terminated by the PCA governing board.
Exempted from the moratorium are Basilan and Isabela City because of the presence of Coconut Scale Insect or cocolisap, those that were given clearance by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) for land conversion, holders of permit to cut as of December 29, 2016 and coconut trees that pose danger to life and those that will be affected by the implementation of government projects.
Fegarido said that any violation of the moratorium should be reported to the Philippine National Police (PNP), which has been deputized to do apprehensions.