Press Release
May 12, 2014


Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chairperson of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee, on Monday urged the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to immediately resort to rehabilitation with the infestation of coconut trees by coconut scale insect (CSI) in the Calabarzon area .

"If we can't stop the infestation, let's rehabilitate," Villar told Erlene Manohar, PCA Region V OIC and Program Manager of Scale Insect Comprehensive Action Program (SICAP).

PCA Administrator lawyer Euclides Forbes said at present, 1,034,421 of the 58,441,505 bearing and non-bearing coconut trees are infested with CSI.

Speaking in yesterday's public hearing on the infestation of coconut trees in the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Quezon, Villar also reminded Manohar to distribute "good" coconut seedlings which can withstand destruction by insects.

Villar noted she is very much concerned on any issues and challenges affecting the coconut farming all over the country, particularly in the Calabarzon area accounting for almost half of the region's coconut production.

She also said one third of our arable agricultural land, which is around 3.5 million hectares, is planted to coconut trees. These represent 68 out of the 79 provinces, and 1,195 out of the 1,554 municipalities in the country.

"Coconuts are one of the most important crops in the Philippiness. The country is the second largest coconut producer in the world, accounting for 26.6% of global production," pointed out the neophyte senator as she also called on the PCA to cut and replace senile trees.

In the same hearing, Villar criticized the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) for the sluggish action in coming out with quarantine measures following the outbreak of coconut infestation in 2010 to help avert its spread.

"It's already late. The infestation started in 2010. It's very, very late. This has been for a long time already. Why will you do the quarantine measures only now?" the senator asked Merly Palacpac, chief of the BPI Plant quarantine Service.

Aside from hearing the actions being done by concerned government agencies to restrict the spread of CSI and address infestation, Villar also listened to measures implemented by local government officials in the affected provinces.

She also heard the woes of coconut farmers and other stakeholders adversely affected by the crisis that hit the Calabarzon area and threatened the coconut industry.

Because of this, Villar likewise urged for continuing efforts and initiatives to control CSI infestation. PCA was also directed to coordinate with the National Bio Safety Committee for the possible importation of the predators that can eat the scale insects.

"We will coordinate with the fertilizer & pesticide authority for testing & approval of organic & non organic pesticides," assured Villar.

She also called for a review of the Department of Agricutlure Budget requirements for outbreaks for all crops and preparation for Standard Operating Procedures and Protocols in case of outbreaks which will damage our crops.

She likewise said the mandate of the National Crop Protection Center should not be limited to research but should include prevention, preparedness and response to outbreaks in any Philippine Crops and implementation of alternative livelihood to mitigate loss of income to farmers due to crop damages; Comprehensive Coordination with LGUs.

"There is a need to institutionalize the National Mapping of all major crops," she added.

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