Court OKs intervenors in aerial spray ban trial

This brings a third party in the tug-of-war between the city's banana industry, led by the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), and the respondent (the city government), which is ready to implement the ordinance later this month.

PBGEA filed for temporary injunction against the ordinance's implementation as it contested the city government's power to pass such law, among other issues.

A court injunction is a judicial block for a party from proceeding to a course of action until the case is resolved.

RTC Branch 17 Judge Renato Fuentes ruled Tuesday the inclusion of 12 persons to intervene in the case as the trial enters the second week.

Fuentes described the case in an interview with reporters as "high profile" because it involves many sectors in the community. He said he has scheduled marathon hearings to expedite the case.

The city government started presenting evidence Tuesday in its defense why the writ for temporary injunction should not be issued to block the implementation of the ordinance.

The entry of intervenors was blocked by petitioner PBGEA, claiming the former’s interests were already represented by the city government.

But Fuentes said the motion was meritorious as the interests of the residents in the affected areas could be best represented by them, not by the city government.

The judge allowed the intervenors' counsel, Raymund Salas, from an alternative law group supporting the ban, to join the deliberations on the fifth day of the marathon trial on the case.

He said, however, that he will no longer allow more intervenors in the trial as it would complicate the case.

Fuentes heard today two out of four witnesses presented by the Davao City Legal Office in defending its stance to implement the ban as scheduled. Last week, Fuentes heard PBGEA's witnesses.

The 12 intervenors, all residents of areas in the city's third district directly affected by aerial spraying, include Wilfredo Mosqueda, Marcelo Villaganes, Crispin Alcomendras, Corazon Sabinada, Geraldine Catalan, Julieta Lawagon, Rebeca Saligumba, Florencia Sabandon, Carolina Pilongo, Alejandra Bentoy, Ledevina Adlawan, and Virgenia Cata-ag.

Apart from PBGEA, Davao Fruits Corporation and the Lapanday Agricultural and Development Corporation are also complainants.

The trial came in the run-up to the implementation of the ban on June 22, three months after it was passed by the city council and approved as ordinance by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

The city's banana industry decried that the ordinance was passed without basis.

While the court hearing was ongoing, a group of supporters of the ban staged a prayer rally outside the Hall of Justice to mark World Environment Day.

In a 41-page answer to PBGEA's complaint, the City Legal Office asked the court to dismiss the case, claiming the city government, through the city council, gave all the stakeholders, including the association, the time to air their respective positions on the issue.

He pointed out that the city government has the authority to pass the ordinance because, under Section 16 of the Local Government Code of 1991, it is mandated to protect the welfare of the people.