DILG: court ruling is best way out of spray ban clash

Rodolfo Rasul, DILG regional director, told MindaNews in an interview Monday the public should be at ease that the debate has reached the courts because the country's justice system is the final arbiter to interpret the laws of the land.

Rasul noted, however, that with both parties guaranteed right to exhaust all legal means in the process, the case could drag –and in worst case scenario even reach the Supreme Court.

"We have to go through that process even if it drags through the justice system," he said adding both parties have raised valid concerns.

The Regional Trial Court started its four-day marathon today on the petition for preliminary injunction filed by the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) against the City Government of Davao to block the implementation of the ordinance banning the use of aerial spray in plantations.

The ordinance was passed on March 23 and was scheduled for implementation on June 23, at the end of the three-month phase-out period when companies shall have shifted to ground spraying.

He said both parties have constitutional rights to protect their own interests, with the city government mandated to promote the welfare of the people and the banana industry to promote its business goals and their stakeholders.

Rasul said the court trial could even raise more awareness on the weak points of the Local Government Code of 1991, which he said has several provisions that have to be revised or updated.

Rasul said there is a long overdue revision needed in the Code, which could be highlighted partly in the continuing debate over questions on the force of a local ordinance like the ban on aerial spraying.

He said the court trial will be a window for the public and the government to look at which provisions of the Local Government Code, the fundamental law from which local legislators drew out strengths of the ordinance, should be updated or revised.

Councilor Leonardo Avila III revealed, however, that the debate should not have  reached the courts if only the PBGEA did not take a hard stance on the phase out period during the committee hearings.

PBGEA revealed to the city council during deliberations in the committee level, that it would take them 25 years to shift from aerial to ground spraying.

The proposal, Avila said, irked Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who conferred with the legislators during the hearings.

Avila said at that time, the city government was eyeing a five-year, not three-month, phase out period.

After Duterte signed the ordinance on March 23, PBGEA appealed to the city government to extend the phase out period from three months to five years, but Avila said it was a move that Avila said came way too late.

MindaNews sought PBGEA officials but no one was available for comment as of presstime. (Walter I. Balane/ MindaNews)