By MARVYN N. BENANING
January 29, 2012, 9:44pm
Alcala instructed Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Administrator Euclides Forbes and PCA Bicol Regional Director Eduardo Allorde to implement the ban by freezing the issuance of permits to those who seek authority to cut such trees for lumber and other uses.
The ban takes effect today, Jan. 30, 2012, Alcala said.
Alcala’s move came after farmers raised the issue during his latest visit to Bicol on January 26-27.
He also distributed more than P19 million worth of agricultural and fishery inputs, equipment, and livelihood projects for thousands of farmers, fisherfolk and rural communities in Albay and Sorsogon.
Alcala met with 1,000 agriculture stakeholders, local officials, studentleaders, members of the academe, newsmen, officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA), Bicol officials, and members of their staff during his two-day swing to Albay and Sorsogon.
Albay Governor Joey Salceda recommended the ban on the cutting of coconut trees by arguing that areas shorn of such trees are prone to landslides and flooding.
Alcala also tackled massive illegal fishing activities and intrusion of commercial fishing companies into Albay’s municipal waters, especially along Burias Pass.
This has deprived marginal fishermen of their only means of livelihood, Alcala added.
Alcala ordered Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Bicol Regional Director Dennis del Socorro to closely coordinate with local officials, arrest violators and prosecute them.
He said the BFAR is already pushing the aquasilviculture program to addressing the lack of livelihood opportunities for marginal fishermen.
Under the program, species like grouper, tilapia, and mudcrabs are raised in mangrove areas.
The BFAR is also putting up multi-species hatcheries in Bicol and other regions to provide additional income and employment opportunities to marginal fisherfolk.
He provided Albay an initial fund of P600,000 to implement an aquasilviculture project and a community-based crab hatchery.
Irrigation problems were also tackled by National Irrigation Administration (NIA) chief Antonio Nangel, who joined Alcala during the visit.
Other agricultural issues were also addressed promptly or referred for follow-up to DA regional executive director Jose V. Dayao, Del Socorro, NIA regional director William Ragodon, and other heads of DA-attached agencies.
Alcala distributed to farmers’ and fishers’ cooperatives, irrigators associations, and local officials various farm equipment worth P14 million, 20 units of bottom-set gillnets worth P1.2 million, and livelihood projects amounting to P1.2 million under the “Agrikultura: Kaagapay ng Bayang Pinoy “ (AKBAY) livelihood program.
He also gifted the students and teachers in 100 public schools in Albay through the Department of Education (DepEd) Regional Office 100 sets garden tools and assorted vegetable seeds for vegetable gardens under the DepEd “Gulayan sa Paaralan” program.