Environment above money in Davao – Avila

Avila said the city has committed to make environmental protection a priority because it is a sustainable option. "It is for the long run," he said.


Avila, who chairs the city council's committee on environment and natural resources, said the city government is sending a "strong message" that the environment is more important than income.


He said Davao has a strong sense of responsibility and accountability that is why the city is ahead in environmental protection.


Avila said Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has expressed a bias for environmental protection. "If you want a law passed on environment protection, pass it now (during Duterte's term)," Avila said.


In the recent debates spawned by the proposed ordinance banning aerial spraying in banana plantations here, Duterte said banana firms could go if they want to. "Don't threaten us," he said, adding the city can survive without the banana firms.


The mayor supported calls of various groups to ban aerial spraying. The mayor wants a ban on aerial spraying by January 2007.  He said spraying fungicides using aircraft should be banned as a precautionary measure against health and environmental hazards until banana firms could prove otherwise.


The banana industry has since denied threatening the city government but stood firm to ask those who favor the  ban to prove alleged health hazards.


The city government last week closed a poultry farm in Catalunan Grande based on complaints from residents for foul odor. Duterte said even if the farm has contributed to the city's economy, he has to consider the health of the people affected.


Avila said environmental protection is not counter-productive to the city's economy. "It is for good business, for sustainable development," he said.  


Avila cited a plan from the city's livestock industry to set their own minimum standards to prevent hazards.