“This is a landmark case that pits people against big business. When the city government unanimously approved the ordinance, it was doing so in the interest of its people and in the exercise of its general welfare powers. It is unfortunate that the CA has succumbed to the pressure of an interest group who has wrecked havoc to the health of Davaoenos for more than 30 years now,” said Tom Villarin, executive director of SIAD in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development (SIMCARRD).
Villarin noted that the passage of the ordinance banning aerial spraying was a ‘watershed decision’ as this practically puts a limit to big business when it comes to environmental protection and people’s health.
“This slaps in the face to big business that has wantonly and excessively used its economic and political muscle to run roughshod over the people for more than three decades has pricked their bloated egos so much that they are now in a warpath – damn the torpedoes!” Villarin said.
“There is more here than meets the eye. A multi-million dollar industry that has practically made a fiefdom in Davao region, dictating politics and employing thousands under its servitude, could not just roll over and suddenly becomes submissive to certain rules not of its liking. Its anathema to their dictum that he who has the gold rules,” Villarin added.
Villarin also said that the ordinance would now have a domino effect to neighboring provinces, cities and municipalities. He likened the ordinance, now being questioned by the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), to a “pandora’s box that has been opened and will now expose their bad industry practices.”
Villarin is referring to the non-implementation of buffer zones, encroachment of upland areas especially watersheds, aquifers and recharge areas, and excessive use of toxic chemicals already banned in Europe and the United States. Plantations have also contributed to the heavy siltation of rivers and the Davao Gulf due to topsoil erosion. Moreover, Villarin said, that the ordinance will further expose the banana companies’ rampant violations of labor laws and safety standards.
“The banana industry is in a time warp. It thinks only of profits as the only bottom line. It is oblivious to the imperatives of sustainable agriculture, environmental protection, people’s health, and labor standards. The ordinance is a wake up call for them to change ways and not to resist it. Unfortunately, industry leaders are just digging in for a long haul. It might become their grave,” he said.
SIMCARRD is pushing for organic agriculture that entails the use of multi-crops, ecological farming systems, and bans the use of synthetic chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. It also promotes smallholder agriculture as against monocrop-plantations, marketing cooperatives for farmers to engage the market for their surplus, and empowered governance where organized groups lay claim to government support services and later run for local elective positions.
SIAD Initiatives in Mindanao-Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development (SIMCARRD, INC.)
195 5th Street, Phase 1 Ecoland Subdivision, Matina, Davao City
Tel/Fax. No. (082) 297-6538