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Koko warns PCA about banned toxins being used against cocolisap

Senator Koko Pimentel. File photograph by Bernard Testa,
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Thursday cautioned the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) against advocating the use of a banned toxin to arrest the coconut infestation known as "cocolisap".

Pimentel issued the warning as Starkle, considered a "super toxin" banned abroad, is being reportedly advocated yet again by a local syndicate to justify a P170 million anti-cocolisap project.

"Scientific evidence should be presented to back up the claims of the Starkle lobby that it is effective and safe for use to arrest the cocolisap infestation in the country," Pimentel said.

The entry of Starkle was stopped last year due to widespread protest by coconut farmers, who feared that the controversial toxin would endanger their livelihood instead of taming the pest.

Pimentel disclosed that, at 54 hot spots or highly infested areas in the country, the pilot use of Starkle proved to be a dud, as the infestation was effectively neutralized, instead, by a non-toxic and cheaper organic solution.

Pimentel said marginal farmers face the grim prospects of losing their livelihood because foreign coconut buyers are very critical against the use of banned chemicals in the exported products.

He said he favored the use of the non-toxic, organic solution to protect the multi-million-peso coconut industry that provides livelihood to hundreds of thousands of rural workers, especially in Mindanao.