Lunhaw Awardee calls for more tree growing activities in the watershed

March 25th, 2015 by

DAVAO CITY – This year’s winner of the Lunhaw Awards for the Best Agro-Forestry Initiative called for an intensification of tree growing activities along the watershed to reverse the damage caused by widespread agriculture development in the area.

“Today’s celebration of the International Day of Forests is an opportunity for us to emphasize the importance of forests and of trees outside our forests.”, said artist-teacher Ric Obenza.

Obenza, together with the Kalapati group of artists, is famous for his art and ecology workshops which have spurred widespread community initiatives on tree planting and rainforestation projects in Baguio, Calinan, Marahan and Marilog districts.

“Trees are essential in regenerating our watersheds. They absorb carbon dioxide and mitigate the impact of global warming brought about by excessive use of fossil fuels. They cool down our rivers and maintain water quality by preventing soil erosion”, he said.

IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes credits Obenza’s tree planting initiatives as instrumental in creating pockets of mini-forests in a watershed that is being encroached by plantations.

“His mini-rainforest parks have become buffer zones against banana and pineapple plantations, protecting communities from toxic pesticides and providing habitats for local wildlife to flourish.”, she said.

The Lunhaw Awards recognized Obenza’s soil generation technique and innovative rainforestation methods which have stopped the desertification of upland areas previously cleared for logging and plantations. His use of native trees and organic methods of farming have revitalized the forest land , allowing local animals and plants to survive and providing a source of forest products for communities to economically benefit from.

Worldwide, global deforestation continues at a frightening rate. The United Nations estimates that around 13 million hectares are destroyed annually, accounting for a 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

In the Philippines, changing land use policies in recent decades have opened up forest land to industrial agriculture and urban migration. This has resulted to the decline of the dipterocarp forest cover in the watersheds – a situation that Obenza hopes to arrest by engaging more community stakeholders in rainforestation activities.

“Our conscious turnaround from nature exploiter to environment steward is pivotal in reversing environmental degradation, habitat destruction and biodiveristy extinction. The call of the hour is to ‘Think globally, act locally’. Everyone should do their share by nurturing a tree.”, Obenza said. (MINDANAO DAILY MIRROR)

Homegrown musical heavyweights sing for the third Lunhaw Awards

March 5th, 2015 by

DAVAO CITY – Rock icon Popong Landero and artist-songwriter Maan Chua join forces for the second leg of the Lunhaw Concert series to honor the 2015 Lunhaw Awardees on March 13, 2015 at the Matina Town Square, Davao’s premier entertainment and cultural arts venue.

Funded by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Lunhaw Concert will highlight original, homegrown compositions which draw inspiration from nature.

“My music has always been a celebratory paean of the Mindanawon’s love for nature and their hopes and inspiration for green and sustainable communities.”, said Chua, who hopes that her songs will inspire more Dabawenyos to take part in the protection of the environment.

Landero, who first broke into the national music scene in the late 70’s with his neo-ethnic musical style, said that reggae has a strong tradition of social consciousness which makes its an apt musical form to reach out to new listeners and stir them to positive action for watershed protection.

“More than anything, music appeals to the heart.”, Landero said. “ On this night, Maan and I will translate our passion for the environment to music so that we can reach out to a new generation of listeners who will also do their part in saving our environment.”

Lunhaw Awards co-organizer and IDIS Executive Director Ann Fuertes said that she was delighted to present the two musicians on the night of the Lunhaw Awarding ceremonies.

“We are excited to have Maan and Popong join us for this year’s Lunhaw awarding ceremonies. Both their musical styles and temperaments provide an excellent platform for the Lunhaw Award’s objective of recognizing and promoting innovative and sustainable initiatives in the city.”, she said.

The Lunhaw Concert will start at 6:00 pm and end at 9:00 pm. In between set lists, the Lunhaw Awards will be given to this year’s seven honorees.

Organized by the City Agriculturist’s Office (CAO), the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (City ENRO), the Davao Association of Catholic Schools (DACS), the Davao City Water District (DCWD) and the Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), the Lunhaw Awards is an annual citywide search which recognizes innovative and sustainable green initiatives that protect and nurture Davao City and its watersheds. (MINDANAO TIMES)

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)