GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 26 Nov) – Officials of Surallah town in South Cotabato are planning to ban aerial spraying in agricultural plantations in the area due to its hazards to human health and the environment.
Surallah Vice Mayor Pinky Divinagracia said they are working on the passage of a proposed ordinance that would specifically prohibit the use of the aerial spraying method by a banana plantation company operating in the area.
She said the municipal council’s committee on environment will begin next week a series of public consultations and the gathering of evidences and other vital information that would support the measure.
The vice mayor earlier met with members of the committee to properly set the required processes for the passage of the proposed ordinance.
She said these include the gathering of water samples from rivers and waterways within the municipality that were reported to have been affected by the continuing aerial spraying of pesticides by banana plantation firm Sumifru Philippines Corporation.
The official cited waterways situated in portions of Barangays Lamian and Veterans, which host the banana plantations of Sumifru.
The water samples will be sent to a laboratory facility based in Davao City for proper testing, she said.
“The results of the water analysis will be used as evidence against aerial spraying,” Divinagracia said in an interview over radio station dxMC Bombo Radyo.
Fr. Francisco Romano, parish priest of the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Surallah town, lauded the local government’s efforts regarding the problem.
But he said they will push for the immediate passage of a resolution that will set a moratorium against aerial spraying in the area pending the passage of the proposed ordinance.
Hundreds of residents barricaded the runway of the community airport in Surallah last week in protest of aerial spraying activities.
Around 300 protesters gathered at the Allah Valley Airport and occupied a portion of the runway in a bid to stop the aerial spraying activities of foreign-backed Sumifru.
The company, which operates banana plantations in Surallah and T’boli towns, had been using the airport as base of its aerial spraying operations.
Omar Azarcon, coordinator of the protest action, said they launched the mobilization to pressure local government leaders in the area to decisively put a stop to the aerial spraying activities of Sumifru.
Citing results of their recent fact-finding mission in the affected areas, Azarcon claimed that they have documented three deaths and numerous cases of various illnesses that were directly caused by the aerial spraying activities.
He said they also found a significant number of residents who have been suffering from various illnesses like asthma and contact dermatitis in the affected communities.