President Benigno Aquino 3rd has ordered government agencies to take measures to prevent the spread of the insect pest “Aspidiotus Rigidus” in the country’s coconut farms.
Aquino, in Executive Order 169 signed June 5, directed the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and all concerned agencies to “formulate and prescribe” the necessary emergency measures and methodologies—mechanical, chemical, and biological—in the treatment of infested coconut trees and other host plants.
”This massive infestation of the scale insect poses a very serious threat to the coconut industry and to the livelihood of those who depend thereon,” the President said.
According to him, Aspidiotus Rigidus has been “tremendously infesting” bearing and non-bearing coconut trees and has “devastated” a significant number of coconut farms in the Calabarzon region.
The President said there were “verified” reports of scale insect infestation in other island provinces, even in Mindanao.
He said the pests have been attacking other high-value crops, such as coffee, cacao and mangosteen, that are cultivated under coconuts or near its plantations.
”If the spread of this invasive pest is not contained, it may wipe out the coconut industry not just in Calabarzon but, eventually, in the rest of the country,” Aquino added.
The Philippines is the top supplier of coconut products in the world market.
The industry has an estimated $2 billion net foreign earnings, provides livelihood to some 3.5 million coconut farmers and serves as the economic backbone of 68 of the eighty 80 provinces of the country.
Under EO 169, the PCA, in cooperation with the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, Department of Agriculture, Department of Science and Technology, Department of the Interior and Local Government, University of the Philippines in Los Baños and National Crop Protection Center, with the support of the appropriate Local Government Units, shall also be in charge of the declaration of infested areas to be under quarantine and the establishment of checkpoints and quarantine stations to prevent the transportation of unprocessed or untreated parts of coconuts, coconut seedlings and other host or vector plants from such areas.
The Bureau of Plant Industry may deputize the PCA and the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies 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 plants.
No coconut leaves or fronds, young coconut and other raw or unprocessed or 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 because of scale insect infestation unless allowed by the PCA.