11 February 2015

‘Cocolisap’ outbreak now at manageable levels, says Secretary Pangilinan
Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Secretary Francis Pangilinan on Wednesday reported that the coconut scale insect infestation, locally known as cocolisap, has been brought down to manageable levels.

“Results of the scientific rapid ground assessment conducted in November and December of 2014 showed that the coconut scale insect infestation, after six months and the treatments used, is now down to manageable levels,” Secretary Pangilinan said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

“We are no longer in outbreak levels. This means that the trees that had severe infestation prior to treatment now have moderate infestation. Those that had moderate infestation now have low infestation, and those with low infestation now have almost zero infestation,” he said.

According to Pangilinan, some 2.7 million coconut trees were infested in various degrees in August last year.

“In the beginning, in June of 2014, there were 58 hotspots in Calabarzon and Basilan and today, we are down to nine hotspots (municipalities),” he said. Calabarzon consists of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon.

Pangilinan noted that a total of 1.6 million trees were treated within a 60-day timeline, through pruning and trunk injection.

In the Calabarzon area, a total of 1.1 trees have been put under control, reducing the infestation by as much as 90 percent, he said, adding that the total amount allocated and spent for the process over the past six months was P177 million out of a budget of P750 million, or P150 per tree.

Pangilinan however warned that though it is not endemic to the Philippines, the cocolisap could recur during the summer months.

“We have to remain vigilant. According to our scientists, this pest will be with us and we cannot have an elimination or eradication of this pest, but we can manage it effectively,” he said, asking the public to report any recurrence of the infestation.

“The difference between this infestation in 2010 and today is that, if it does happen, marunong na po tayong kumilos. Alam na po natin ang protocols, alam na po natin paano po mababawasan nang husto, at hindi na po tayo mauunahan ng pagkalat nito,” he added. PND (ag)

Government implements preventive measures after report of MERS-CoV infection
President Benigno S Aquino III has directed Acting Health Secretary Janette Garin to carry out the necessary preventive measures after a nurse from Saudi Arabia tested positive for MERS-CoV and was admitted to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for treatment, the Palace has said.

“Contact tracing is being done to locate fellow passengers of the patient who travelled from Saudi Arabia to Manila last week,” Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said in a statement on Wednesday.

In a news release, the Department of Health (DOH) said a 32-year-old nurse who just arrived from Saudi Arabia went to the RITM for a medical examination due to fever, body ache and breathing difficulties, symptoms of a MERS-CoV infection.

Laboratory tests have yielded positive results, and the patient is currently confined in a negative pressure room at the RITM.

The patient is in stable condition, but is under strict monitoring by medical personnel, the department said.

The DOH also said they are tracing the other passengers who travelled home with the Filipino nurse from Saudi Arabia.

It however noted that experts believe that the possibility of other passengers on the airplane being infected is low.

The DOH sought public cooperation to fight infectious diseases, such as the MERS-CoV, that could threaten public health.

The Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus or MERS-CoV, which manifests flu-like symptoms, first developed in the Middle East.

“Handa ang ating gobyernong gamutin ang mga maysakit pero malaking tulong kung maagang magpapakonsulta ang bawat pasyenteng may nararamdaman, lalo na kung galing sa Middle East region,” the DOH said. PND (as)

Palace still looking for ‘right people’ to head election, audit, civil service commissions
Malacañang is still looking for the right people to replace the heads of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Commision on Audit (COA) and Civil Service Commission (CSC), Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Wednesday.

“Pinag-aaralan ‘yung mga appointments – kung sino ang papalit doon. These are very sensitive positions. As you know, we are looking at the heads of independent constitutional commissions. So, we are looking for the right people for the job,“ Lacierda said during the daily press briefing.

Last week, Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes retired after his seven-year term ended while COA chairperson Grace Pulido Tan and CSC Commissioner Francisco Duque III have both resigned.

Lacierda said it will take time to fill up the vacant posts.

“It certainly will take time to find the right people who just vacated these important positions. You’ve got the likes of, for instance, Chairman Grace Tan, who has established a very sterling reputation. So, you would like to have someone who has the same level of integrity and reputation as Chairman Grace Tan,” he explained.

“Because this is a public position, certainly, we are looking at everyone who is qualified, so the bottom line is we are looking at a person who will lead the commissions in a manner that have been left behind by those who led them previously,” he added.

Regarding the case of Department of Health Acting Secretary Janette Garin, Lacierda said there is no decision yet if she will be appointed as chief.

“We will just wait for the official announcement. Wala pang final word and we cannot make any statement other than what would be official and conveyed to us,” he said. PND (jm)

Take the video down, Palace tells owner of video showing shooting of wounded police commando
The Palace on Wednesday told the owner of the video showing the brutal slaying of an injured member of the police’s Special Action Force (SAF), to take it off the social media.

“Whoever uploaded the video is a heartless fellow. If you still have some humanity left in your soul, we ask you to take it down,” Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said during a briefing in Malacañang.

The video, showing a wounded uniformed man on his back in a field being shot at close range, has been spreading on the social media.

Also shown in the video were several other bloodied men wearing camouflage uniforms, as well as the looting of tactical equipment, such as vests and ammunition.

Asked if the Palace has any message to the public regarding the video that has caused outrage due to its violent content, Lacierda said the government will see to it that justice is served.

“You have a right to be angry. You have a right to be outraged by such a brutal display of violence. But at the end of the day, we need to seek the truth. We need to find justice for all of those who died, including the SAF hero who was in that video. And that is what we intend to do,” he said. PND (ag)