CA asked to junk motion for TRO vs aerial spray ban

The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) had earlier filed a motion asking the appellate court to issue a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order on the ordinance banning aerial spraying in Davao City's plantations.

The intervenors, in a manifestation to the CA on November 12, said the banana growers’ appeal cannot overturn a decision of the Regional Trial Court declaring the city government's decision to implement the ban as constitutional.

"The petitioners-appellants (PBGEA, et al) have not shown any right for such entitlement of the relief demanded, as compared to the respondents-intervenors-appellees' (city government of Davao and the interveners) constitutionally protected right to health and environment as being promoted by the public respondents, City of Davao, in the issuance of the ordinance," the intervenors said.

"The opposition of the group is anchored on the contention of general welfare and police power," a statement coming from the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying on November 16 said.

The Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (Saligan-Mindanao) presented the manifestation in reply to PBGEA’s petition which it asked the court to deny "for utter lack of merit and for being moot and academic."

Saligan pointed out the city government only exercised its police power to promote and protect the welfare of the people of Davao and the environment against the "corporate interest of giant banana industry neither seeking recourse without justification nor showing of any legal right to be protected."

"And granting that the constitution provides protection to the interest of the companies, this right cannot be more than powerful than the constitutionally protected right of the people to health and environment and the power of the local government to provide protection to its people," the statement further said.

In its appeal to the CA on October 18, PBGEA claimed that disallowing plantations to conduct aerial spraying makes their bananas susceptible to the Black Sigatoka disease.

PBGEA called the RTC decision "most unfair and unjust treatment." 

RTC Branch 17 Judge Renato Fuentes, in a decision dated September 22, ruled that City Ordinance 03-090-07 Series of 2007 which bans banning aerial spraying in agricultural plantations is valid and constitutional.

Fuentes lauded the decision of the city government to pass the ordinance and stressed that the weak testimonies of PBGEA's witnesses failed to support the group's petition to junk the ban.

The city government has stood firm on implementing the ordinance passed on March 23. It gave the banana industry three months or up to June 23 to prepare for a shift to ground spraying.

PBGEA obtained a three-month preliminary injunction from the RTC, which ended on September 23. Since then, spray planes had been grounded.

Aerial spraying was used in around 900 of the 5,000 hectares of land planted to banana in Davao City, Councilor Leonardo Avila III told reporters last year.

Davao City is yet the second local government to ban aerial spraying in Mindanao's vast agricultural plantations.  Bukidnon imposed a similar ban in 2002. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)