MANILA (UPDATED) - President Aquino has signed an executive order (EO) declaring a state of emergency in areas infested by coconut scale insects where more than 1 million coconut trees are in danger of dying.
Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Kiko Pangilinan recommended the filing of the EO, which covers Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) and Basilan.
If not treated, the loss to the Philippine coconut industry will amount to P33 billion.
"It is serious enough to ask for emergency measures... If we don't address this, it could spread to the Bicol region, and also in the Zamboanga peninsula," Pangilinan told ANC on Friday.
"I hope that with the intervention, we will be able to manage this effectively and bring it down to manageable levels," he said.
Coconut scale insects are wind-borne and can easily spread to other regions if not controlled.
The infestation started in 2010 but efforts to stop it have failed.
The operation to manage the infestation is massive and will start soon.
"This is going to be a national, top-to-bottom, bottom-up effort. So the local governments will have to participate."
"The target is to treat anywhere between 15,000-17,000 trees a day. A million trees are affected. A million is around less than 2% of the entire tree population in Calabarazon," Pangilinan said. -- With ANC