Allegations vs scientists absolutely false
Once again, Bernie V. Lopez has demonized the efforts of scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) working on the coconut scale insect problem in the country (“Deadly chemical for coconut trees,” Opinion, 8/4/14). He has been doing this via the social media, sending out propaganda against the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and UPLB. Because of his lack of understanding of the science of pest management, he chose to dwell on the socio-
economic and political dimensions of the issue and stretched the debate to sow intrigue and allegations of conspiracy for monetary gains, involving UPLB scientists and the pesticide industry—this being the more comfortable tack for him.
We invite readers to read the newspaper articles of academician Dr. Emil Q. Javier (former president of the National Academy of Science and Technology) for a balanced and science-based treatment of the coconut scale insect issue.
Lopez referred to UPLB entomologists, particularly myself, as one pushing hard for “Starkle,” which happens to be owned by a fraternity brother in UPLB, based on an earlier Inquirer report citing businessman Rey F. Quisumbing’s allegations/insinuations of monetary gain on my part. I have shed light on this matter in a letter published in the July 21 issue of the Inquirer. This matter with Quisumbing will be a subject for the court to resolve.
Allow me to categorically state that this is a false accusation and that I did not sell science for the benefit of a fraternity brother and myself. When Secretary Francis Pangilinan took over the PCA, the PCA-Sagip-UPLB Task Force created by Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala ceased to exist legally. The former task force members were only consulted by the PCA for a briefing on technical matters and on what has been done earlier. There is no pressure nor do we demand from Secretary Pangilinan and the PCA management that our recommendation be followed. They have the option to hear other ideas and dismiss our recommendations which are based on our scientific research and are well-supported with experimentation. The policy decision on how to address the problem is the PCA management’s call.
I also do not sit in the PCA Bids and Awards Committee that evaluated tenders and awarded contracts. The PCA has its own technical group to evaluate submissions, and UPLB scientists were never part of this process.
My appeal to Lopez and those who are proposing organic pesticides: Please do not use UPLB scientists to promote your products by way of numerous allegations that discredit the program and the people working hard to address the problem.
—LUIS REY I. VELASCO, PhD,
professor of entomology,
College of Agriculture,
University of the Philippines Los Baños
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