Environment groups back SouthCot’s plan to ban aerial spray

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 27 Nov) – Environment groups have joined the campaign for the total ban of aerial spraying method in banana plantations in Surallah, South Cotabato.

The move came shortly after the pronouncement of Surallah Vice Mayor Pinky Divinagracia that they are working on the passage of a proposed ordinance that would specifically prohibit the use of the aerial spray, citing its hazards to human health and the environment.

The Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS), a group here that campaigned for the banning of aerial spray in Davao City, has expressed its support to the Catholic-led campaign in South Cotabato.

MAAS President Dagohoy Magaway urged the local government unit of Surallah and neighboring towns affected by aerial spraying to legislate the ban.

“If they truly care for the people and the environment, no amount of economic persuasion by banana plantations should stop them from proactively taking steps to ensure that the environment is free from the toxic rain brought about by these spray planes,” Magaway added.

MAAS led a similar campaign here in 2005. Two years later, the Davao City Council passed an ordinance banning the use of aerial spray despite strong opposition from banana growers.

Sr. Susan Bolanio, executive director of Hesed Foundation based in South Cotabato, said they are not against banana plantations. “We are only against the aerial spraying,” pointed out Bolanio, whose group was also among those who campaigned for the ban of open pit mining in the province.

Bolanio is in the city for a meeting with MAAS and other non-government organizations to strengthen the campaign against aerial spray in her province.

She relayed that residents are worried that aerial spray could contaminate the water sources of barangays Lamian and Veterans.

The local government unit has already gathered water samples from these villages for laboratory analysis. The results will be use as evidence in the passage of the ordinance, Divinagracia said.

Tony Dizon, coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, said his group is also supporting this campaign, adding that it is vital for the LGUs to pass the ordinance for the safety of their constituents.

On November 17, some 300 protesters gathered at the Allah Valley Airport and occupied a portion of the runway in a bid to stop aerial spraying activities of foreign-backed Sumifru Philippines Corporation.

The company, which operates banana plantations in Surallah and T’boli towns, has been using the airport as base of its aerial spraying operations.