Brontispa longissima, scientific name of the coconut leaf beetle, is an invasive or a very damaging pest from Southeast Asia.
Priscilla Abasolo, a ranking PCA official in the region, said the beetle has been declared as one of the most destructive pests of coconut and ornamental palms, including oil palm.
"It can destroy the country's vital coconut industry in six years if not eradicated early," she stressed.
Abasolo met with top legislators in North Cotabato, including the chair and members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan's committee on agriculture to discuss the need for coconut quarantine in the province as a result of the widespread infestation of coconut leaf beetles in many parts of the country.
She also asked the SP to issue a legislative measure that would regulate the sale and distribution of palm planting materials from outside Southwestern Mindanao.
Abasolo said that Davao and Bukidnon, two of North Cotabato's neighboring provinces, are already infested with the beetle.
North Cotabato Vice Gov. Manny Piñol, who also chairs the SP, assured PCA officials they have the support of the provincial government.
Piñol said they would invite PCA officials to sit down with municipal and provincial agriculturists to determine what course of action they would take to prevent the infestation.
So far, according to Abasolo, Southwestern Mindanao, Caraga and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao are the only three regions in Mindanao that are still free from brontispa infestation. (MindaNews)