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)

Plantations in watersheds need permits, clearances

August 3rd, 2014 by

DAVAO CITY – PRIVATE and big corporations who want to convert watershed areas of Davao City into plantations must secure government permits and clearances, Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte said.

Duterte on Sunday issued the reminder after Sun.Star Davao columnist and Davao City Water District (DCWD) board of director Serafin “Jun” Ledesma called the attention of the city mayor through his weekly column.

“We really prohibit expansions in watershed areas. Naay balaod ana (There is a law) and it is enforced. Ug naay gusto mutanom o mugamit ug yuta (If anyone wants to utilize that land), it has to be delineated sa terrain analyses and they have to get a clearance. Otherwise, it would be a violation of law to proceed without a clearance,” Duterte said during his Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa Sunday.

He also said he will ask the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) to look into the areas and determine whether violations are committed.

Ledesma, in his column published on July 22, said “I have it from veritable source that a multinational banana corporation had developed some 200 hectares of land adjacent to Tamugan River and its tributaries.

This is a serious issue in the backdrop of the plan of the city government and of the Davao City Water District to tap the surface water of Tamugan.”

He said the corporation should stop its activity in the area and reforest the area, instead.

“I am urging Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to issue an order stopping corporate farms from converting recharge areas or watersheds of Davao City’s aquifers to monocrops. Their failure to comply with the directive of the city council to put up buffer zones should the more deter them from invading watersheds or anywhere beside Tamugan river and tributaries,” Ledesma said.

These allegations were confirmed by Duterte. He said corporate and even individual who are into agricultural farming operates in prohibited areas.

Duterte reminded the public “not to tinker with the watershed areas” since the spray being used goes straight to the river.

“Wala na tay underground water karon, naa pa pero dili mahatag ang supply nga panginahanglan sa syudad. So we have to tap the surface water and protect the watershed. Mao na dapat naay buffer zone especially in Tamugan (Our underground water is being depleted, there’s still some but no longer enough to provide for the whole city. Thus the need for a buffer zone in Tamugan),” he said.

The establishment of buffer zones along riverbanks is mandated by the Watershed Protection, Conservation and Management Ordinance of Davao City.

Section 24 of its Implementing Rules and Regulations states that “A minimum of 40-meter buffer zone shall be established between the plantation and critical areas such as recharge zones, critical slopes, riverbanks, rivers, springs, wells and others sources of water measured from the outermost boundary of the nearest critical area towards the plantation area within 6 months after the approval of the IRR.”

Meanwhile, the Watershed Management Council (WMC) launched a reforestation project along the riverbanks of the tributaries inside the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed to protect its headwaters which are the future source of Davao’s world-class drinking water.

The Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS), the Non-Government Organization Representative to the WMC, said this project will rehabilitate the areas already delineated and permanently marked by the WMC as critical areas for conservation and protection.

“This initiative gathers stakeholders to plant trees along the banks of streams and rivers, creating riparian forest corridors throughout the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed,” IDIS Executive Director Mary Ann Fuertes said.

“Riparian forest corridors are essentially buffer zones or easement banks along the rivers and streams. They are very important in forest ecology because not only do they prevent pesticide residues from reaching the rivers, they also serve as natural sponges which absorb excess run-off during heavy rains, thereby preventing flooding and erosion,” she said.

Funded by the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), the project will identify appropriate riverbank sites for tree growing in coordination with the riverbank communities and barangays.

Endemic fruit trees will be prioritized in the tree growing activities with the communities being coached to take the lead in monitoring and evaluation of the forest sites.

“Barangay volunteers will be trained as Bantay Bukid personnel to help protect these forest corridors. Agro-forestry livelihood initiatives will also be implemented by the WMC so that communities can also generate additional income,” she said.

The initial areas identified for the project are in the upland barangays of Tambobong, Tamugan, Wines, Gumalang and Tawan-tawan.

The project aims to cover all riverbanks in all the eight watersheds of Davao City. At the end of the project year, incentives will be given to the best community-managed riparian forest corridor.

“Through this project, the riverbanks will finally be highlighted for their strategic impact in watershed management. It is my hope that all riverbanks, especially the urban riverbanks, will be eventually covered by this project,” said WMC member and Chair of the Watershed Multipartite Monitoring Team (WMMT) Engr. Liza Madrazo. (Arianne Caryl N. Casas, SUNSTAR DAVAO) 

Riparian Forest planned at watershed

August 1st, 2014 by

DAVAO CITY –   The  Watershed Management Council (WMC) and its member-organizations are planning to set up a riparian forest corridor at the Tamugan- Panigan watershed that will connect the watersheds to the city’s coastal areas.

A riparian forest is the area of land and vegetation immediately next to bodies of water such as streams, rivers, or lakes, said Mary Anne Fuertes, head of Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), the non-government organization representative of the project.

“Riparian forests help in filtering wastes, they absorb that instead of the runoffs from the uplands going to the river or water supply,” Fuertes said.

She added that apart from the ecological development of the watershed, riparian forests also serve as livelihood opportunities for communities in the area who will also be their partners in developing and managing the forest corridor.

“Ecotourism can flourish in the forest corridor. There can be barangay parks, picnic areas, and there are species of trees that can be used for livelihood,” added Fuertes.

Riparian forest corridors also attract different endemic wildlife, she said, both in the forest areas and the bodies of water they will be connected to, encouraging wildlife diversity.

The setting up of the riparian forest corridor project has no schedule yet, she said, but stakeholders from the immediate community  also met yesterday at Lispher Inn in Juna subdivision for the implementation planning.

“We want to meet with the schools, barangay leaders, to determine what is feasible for everyone,” she said.

The Foundation for the Philippine Environment has set aside P2 million in two years for the project.

“This is not solely for the river banks projects. But with that amount, there are plenty of projects that can be started,” Fuertes said.

Additionally, Fuertes said there are five “Bantay Bukid” volunteers set for training this year to monitor the areas.

The volunteers will be coming from the barangays located around the Tamugan-Panigan Watershed, such as Tambobong, Tamugan, Wangan, and Wines.

The volunteers will join the 42 Bantay Bukid personnel trained last year, and Fuertes said they are compensated through provision of insurance, and equipment for their work in the area.  (Salud Isabel Petalcorin, MINDANAO TIMES)