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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

PCA-Basilan trains quarantine inspectors to curb cocolisap

By Rene V. Carbayas

ISABELA CITY, Basilan – Efforts to contain the spread of cocolisap in other areas of Basilan and nearby cities and provinces are gaining ground with the recent training of plant quarantine inspectors.

Some 40 participants coming from the municipalities of Ungkaya Pukan, Tuburan, Lantawan, Sumisip, Maluso and the cities of Lamitan and Isabela have committed to help the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) in curbing the spread of the Coconut Scale Insect (CSI) also known locally as cocolisap.

Onesima Hayawan of PCA-Basilan said the participants underwent a training and deputation as plant quarantine inspectors to regulate and prevent the spread of scale insect in Zamboanga and Basilan.

Benito S. Mendoza, OIC-Plant Quarantine Service Region IX said that inspectors must first know plant quarantine system and orders to effectively function as such.

Mendoza, together with other members of the PQS of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) under the Department of Agriculture, namely Arne B. Senon and Lorena T. Cabatingan have explained the role of deputized PQ (plant quarantine) Inspectors duties and responsibilities.

BPI Special Quarantine Order No. 1, Series of 2014 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) have been promulgated to address the infestation of CSI in outbreak areas of coconuts in some municipalities and cities of Batangas, Cavite, Laguna and Quezon. With the outbreak of cocolisap in Basilan, the same special order was applied.

The Quarantine Order and IRR for other crops infested by scale insects, “Declaring Severe Infestation of Aspidiotus spp. and Unaspis sp. in Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana) and Lanzones (Lansium domesticum), respectively, Including Other Scale Insects Affecting Other Plants In the Coconut Scale Insect (CSI) Outbreak Areas of Batangas, Cavite, Laguna and Quezon and Providing Measures To Manage Its Spread From Infested to Non Infested Areas” incudes that in the CSI outbreak areas some economically important crops such as mangosteen and lanzones have been likewise reported to be heavily infested by Aspidiotus spp. and Unaspis sp., respectively, with a combined infestation of more than half a million trees in 2014.

Other crops such as banana, avocado, breadfruit, mango, sugarcane, many palm species, guava, papaya and other plants have been, in the absence of an official validated data,  likewise reported to be infested by other pests including but not limited to other scale insects and mealybugs.

Challenged with the magnitude of infestation and its negative impact on local economy and food security, the BPI declared that official measures should be adopted to check, control and manage the increase and spread of these injurious pests, and the BPI–PQS is tasked to conduct the necessary quarantine measures to prevent the spread of these pests.

With the open coastal lines of the island province of Basilan and very few BPI-PQS personnel in the region, the PCA and BPI saw the need to train more volunteer PQ inspectors primarily to regulate and control the exit of plant hosts and other potential carriers of cocolisap from infested to non-infested areas.

However, the BPI-PQS said that the movement, transfer and carrying of plants, planting materials and any other parts of mangosteen and lanzones including other plants that may be affected shall be allowed by the BPI Director or his duly authorized representatives provided there is an on-site inspection by a Plant Quarantine Officer (PQO) and/or any BPI deputized personnel of the concerned DENR, PQS, Local Government Units (LGUs) and RFO.  Such shipment must be accompanied by a Domestic Permit to Transport (BPI "Q" Form No. 12). The permit should be presented for verification purposes to the duly deputized plant quarantine inspectors in all checkpoints where the commodity shall pass.

Executive Order No. 169 of 2014 (Establishing emergency measures to control and manage the spread and damage of Aspidiotus Rigidus in the Philippines and designating the Philippine Coconut Authority as the lead agency for the purpose) states that the BPI may deputize PCA and the PNP, and other law enforcement offices 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.

Aside from learning their roles and responsibilities, the participants were also given a briefing on understanding the cocolisap and its life cycle and infestation with agricultural technologist Emerald N. Saturno and the status of coconut scale insect infestation and interventions with Abraham L. Guerzon of PCA-Isabela City.