Aerial spraying endangers Davao watersheds

February 13th, 2015 by

DAVAO CITY – Eight years after an ordinance here banned aerial spraying of fungicides on banana plantations, advocates say the fight must continue to prevent unmonitored practices to contaminate the watersheds.

Environmental group Mamamayang Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS) disclosed that the plantation and farm owners in the barangays of Dacudao and Subasta in Calinan District continued to use aerial spraying.

“Both barangays are also located in important but critically endangered watersheds. Subasta, in particular, is located in the Talomo-Lipadas Watershed where the city sources its drinking water,” said Dagohoy Magaway, president of MAAS.

MAAS said that the environment group Interface Development Interventions, Inc (IDIS) “found [in 2013] traces of pesticides in air and water samples taken from four separate areas in the Talomo-Lipadas and Panigan-Tamugan watersheds.”

Magaway said that these watersheds are “the current and future sources of drinking water for the city.”

In a privilege speech Tuesday at the City Council here, Councilor Leonardo Avila III said that they would press hard on plantations still using aerial spraying.

Avila said that they have held several hearings “between the workers and residents against the multinational companies in September 2006 to February 2007.”

“We concluded that the people like farmers and farm workers and the environment, were not as resilient as the large-scale agricultural plantations,” Avila said.

“This decision also favored the next generations of Davaoenos living within the periphery of the agricultural plantations and the bodies of water where we source part of our drinking, domestic and agricultural requirements,” he said.

Ordinance 0309-07 entitled “An Ordinance Banning Aerial Spraying Practice in all Agricultural Entities in Davao City” was passed by Davao City in March 2007 but was questioned in court by giant banana plantation group Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Associaion (PBGEA).

The ordinance prohibits aerial spraying of fungicides in 1,800 hectares out of the total 5,000 hectares of banana plantations in Davao City.

Six months later, in September 2007, PBGEA filed a case questioning the constitutionality of the ordinance before the Regional Trial Court 17.

The RTC Branch 17 affirmed the constitutionality of the ordinance but PBGEA elevated the case to the Court of Appeals in Cagayan de Oro City.

The appellate court declared the ordinance unconstitutional on January 2009. A month after, in February 2009, MAAS and other groups elevated the case to the Supreme Court where it is now pending.

MAAS said it also demands for immediate implementation of Davao’s Watershed Code “which contains provisions that prohibit aerial spraying in the designated environmentally critical areas (ECA) of the watersheds.”

“We will work with what we have. Right now, it is the Watershed Code, which is currently being implemented, that allows us to protect Talomo-Lipadas, Panigan-Tamugan and other watersheds from contamination by toxic chemicals released through aerial spraying. Even as the Ban AS ordinance awaits final resolution, the campaign to eradicate aerial spraying continues.” Magaway said.

Avila also said that during 2004, “there was already a statement from the Department of Health urging the Department of Agriculture to stop aerial spraying until sufficient proof of its safety was clearly established.”

“While our fight has not ended, as the case is still pending at the Supreme Court, there are some things to be thankful for: with agricultural plantations expanding to other areas outside of the city, other LGUs that have existing large-scale plantations still using aerial spray have been inspired by ordinance and are taking their own measures to pursue similar ban,” Avila said.

Avila said that there are bills in Congress seeking to ban aerial spray “both moving towards the total ban of aerial spraying in the country”.

He said they are calling on the national government agencies and the Congress to “fast-track the legislative process on the proposed aerial spray ban.” (Mark Anthony Duran, davaotoday.com)

Lift TRO on Aerial Spray; Avila

February 13th, 2015 by

Backed by environmentalists, Councilor Leonardo Avila III yesterday urged to uphold an eight-year-old anti-aerial spray law banning the aerial spraying in banana plantations in Davao City.

This developed as members of Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spray (MAAS) are again up in arms asking the lifting of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which was issued in favor of the banana growers.

The city ordinance on the total aerial spray ban was approved eight years ago but until now it is has yet to be implemented.

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) had upheld the legality of the ordinance but the banana group was able to secure a TRO from the Court of Appeals that remain in effect until today.

“Let us uphold the ban on aerial spray in Davao City and call on the national government agencies to hasten inter-agency actions to come up with appropriate policy and for Congress to fast-track the legislative process on the proposed aerial spray ban.” In his privilege speech at the City Council regular session yesterday, Avila said.

“The ordinance cannot be implemented because of the TRO and it is high time that the Supreme Court once and for all resolve the issue.

The total aerial spray ban ordinance, Avila said, will prove further the city as child and environment friendly.

“We want the Supreme Court to lift the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) which was issued by the Court of Appeals in 2009,” Wangan barangay captain Crispin Alcomendras said.

Alcomendras said they want the TRO lifted so people can live happily in the community and in harmony with the environment. (Editha Z. Caduaya, Mindanao Daily Mirror)

Aerial spraying in two barangays

February 13th, 2015 by

THE aerial spraying of pesticides is still being carried out in banana plantations in at least two barangays in Davao City, an environment group has reported.

Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (Maas) president Dagohoy Magaway said the barangays are Dacudao and Subasta in Calinan District, and both are located in the city’s watershed areas.

He said Subasta is in the Talomo-Lipadas Watershed where the city sources its drinking water.

Another environment group, Interface Development Interventions Inc. (Idis), earlier found traces of pesticides in air and water samples taken from four areas in the Talomo-Lipadas and Panigan-Tamugan watersheds.

These watersheds are the current and future sources of drinking water for the city.

“The aerial spray knows no boundaries, it goes where the wind currents takes it. When it settles down on our rivers and springs, it threatens our water supply and the health of everyone who drinks from it,” Magaway said.

Magaway also pointed out that communities surrounding the two barangays have reported cases of the pesticide drift reaching them.

Maas and its support groups are calling for the immediate implementation of Davao’s Watershed Code, which has provisions banning aerial spraying in the designated environmentally critical areas (ECA) of the watersheds.

“We will work with what we have. Right now, it is the Watershed Code, which is currently being implemented, that allows us to protect Talomo-Lipadas, Panigan-Tamugan and other watersheds from contamination by toxic chemicals released through aerial spraying. Even as the Ban AS ordinance awaits final resolution, the campaign to eradicate aerial spraying continues,” Magaway said.

Maas is commemorating the eighth year of the passage of Davao’s landmark Ban Aerial Spraying Ordinance.

“This is the eighth year that we are commemorating the ordinance despite the fact that the Supreme Court has yet to resolve with finality the legality of its implementation in Davao City,” he said.

“Even so, the fact that this ordinance has been passed should send a strong signal to the remaining plantation companies still practicing aerial spraying that the local government is serious in upholding its people’s right to health and a clean environment,” he said. (Arianne Casas, Sunstar Davao)

Higher banana profits linked to ground spraying

June 11th, 2013 by

DAVAO CITY — Small banana farmers will earn more if they shift from aerial to manual or ground spraying, according to a study commissioned by environmental group Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS).

  The unpublished study, “Financial Assessment of Shifting from Aerial to Ground Spray in Banana Plantations in Davao Region,” reported a 19% increase in potential gross profit, from P116,000 to P138,200 per hectare per year, for small banana farmers who shifted from aerial to ground spraying.

The findings also showed that small farmers experience “negative net income” because of the high cost of aerial spraying. On average, the study estimated, aerial spraying operations cost P68,000 per hectare for year for large plantations.

In present practice, this cost is charged against the account of the small farmers, who pay an average of P73,800 per hectare per year, the study added.

The study also claimed that large plantations prefer aerial spraying because shifting to ground spraying leads to additional costs of P28,700 per hectare per year.

However, IDIS Executive Director Ann V. Fuertes has said that the increase would be due to additional infrastructure needed to maximize the results of ground spraying. Ms. Fuertes noted that the report recommended additional road networks, trucks and labor but added that profit margins would be “acceptable” despite potential losses.

“This [the study] is to show that banana industry will not die, but it is still profitable even without aerial spraying,” Ms. Fuertes said.

The IDIS officer said the group is now working to educate independent banana growers, mostly small plantations contracted by big banana firms, on the benefits of shifting to manual spray.

The study by researcher Anabeth San Gregorio covered agricultural areas in Tamayong, a remote eastern district of Davao City, and in Kapalong, Davao del Norte.

Citing environmental and health hazards, in 2007, the city government passed an ordinance to ban the aerial spraying of agrochemicals. The ordinance affected the operations of at least 5,000 hectares of banana plantations here.

Industry group Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association has challenged the ordinance, but the Supreme Court has yet to issue its ruling. (M.M. Padillo, BUSINESS WORLD ONLINE)

 

Exec policy on aerial spray ban pushed

February 8th, 2013 by

ANTI-AERIAL spraying activists, commemorating the 6th anniversary of the passage of the Davao City Anti-Aerial Spraying Ordinance, asked the Aquino administration on Thursday to issue a definite executive policy on the banning of the dangerous agricultural practice in Mindanao’s monocrop plantations.

“Since 2010, several national inter-agency meetings have already been conducted to discuss the issue and come up with a unified policy but until now, there is still no official government stand on this controversial issue,” said Mary Ann Fuertes, executive director of Interface Development Interventions (Idis).

Idis has been supporting the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (Maas) grassroots campaign against aerial spraying in plantations in Southern Mindanao.

According to Fuertes, President Benigno Aquino III had instructed the Presidential Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to take the lead in coming up with recommendations, but until now it has yet to issue its report.

“We were told that the PCSD had decided to conduct a cost-benefit study of the aerial spraying practice to aid them in making their policy recommendations. And yet, as of December 2012, there is still no study being conducted since it still lacks funds from the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources),” she said.

But for Maas president Dagohoy Magaway, the PCSD’s insistence on the conduct of another study seeks to reduce this issue to a question of economics.

“Why is the government focusing on the economic aspects of this case when the real issue here is our right to a clean and healthy environment?” Magaway said.

Maas and its supporters are against aerial spraying because the pesticide drift coming from the spray planes often hits the communities situated near monocrop plantations, contaminating the water supply and causing sickness in the local population.

Magaway pointed out that even the Department of Health (DOH) has released a study documenting the negative impact of pesticide drift on the health of the residents in the communities.

The DOH study was also instrumental in convincing the Commission on Human Rights to also issue their resolution supporting the recommendation to ban aerial spraying in plantations.

Both national agencies issued their recommendations during the Arroyo and Aquino administrations but until now, no direct action has been undertaken.

“Do not reduce us to merely an economic issue. More than anything, this is an issue of human rights,” Magaway said. “Environmental justice must be served.”

Both groups are appealing to President Aquino to issue an executive order for a temporary moratorium while the PCSD impact study is being conducted.