DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Environmental groups here renewed their call to ban the use of aerial spraying and this time it’s not only in Davao City but the entire Philippines.
The call was made as environmentalists commemorate the 11th year anniversary of the passage of the city ordinance entitled “An Ordinance Banning Aerial Spraying as an Agricultural Practice in All Agricultural Activities by All Agricultural Entities in Davao City”.
The ordinance was passed during the term of President Rodrigo Duterte while he was then the mayor here. The Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional in 2016 after the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association Incorporated (PBGEA) challenged the ordinance.
“We are left not without any recourse because the Supreme Court declared the ordinance unconstitutional and not the banning of the aerial spraying per se,” Peñalver said.
Even with the decision, lawyer Mark Peñalver, policy advocacy specialist of Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), told reporters on Thursday, February 8, that they will continue the campaign to ban aerial spraying in the country ” because of the massive harm it brings not only to the environment but most importantly the health of the communities ” .
Peñalver explained that the SC’s ruling on the ordinance was ” because of the technical aspect and not the move to stop aerial spraying “.
One of the three points raised by the SC on the ordinance said that ” it is an ‘ ultra vires act ‘ or not within the authority of the local government unit (LGU) “.
It said the regulation and control of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals ” is a function of the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority and not the LGUs “.
But Peñalver said they were still optimistic that their advocacy could still be pursued through legislative and executive channels, ” especially now that former City Mayor Duterte is now the President “.
“There are currently three pending bills in the House of Representative and we will draft an executive order to be submitted to the Office of the President and the FPA,” he said.
Peñalver said he hopes that the bills will be given attention since it has also been years that it was filed.
Based on the study conducted by IDIS in 2011, traces of pesticides were found in air and water samples were taken from four separate areas in Talomo-Lipadas and Panigan-Tamugan watersheds.
Dagohoy Magaway, member of the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS) said the Supreme Court decision was “selective since other cities and LGUs continue to implement their respective ordinances on the banning of aerial spray”.
“Why is it that Bukidnon and other areas were not questioned? Is it right to say that it is justice here in the Philippines is selective?” he said.
“We are fighting for our health, our lives, and they will just decide based on technicalities? Can’t it just be resolved?” Magaway added.
Peñalver said the selective decision of the Supreme Court might be a way to discourage other municipalities and cities to implement or pass an ordinance to ban such.
The groups clarified that “they are not against banana plantations but the practices that threaten the environment and health of the communities,” he said. (davaotoday.com)