Passage of law on banana industry dev’t pushed

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 October) — Big banana players in Mindanao will push for the passage of the Comprehensive Development Act for Banana by asking Davao del Norte Rep. and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to sponsor the bill.

Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport) 11 president Ferdinand Marañon told MindaNews that they are planning to talk to Alvarez as they convene members of the interim board of the National Banana Industry Council to elect its officers in the next few months.

Marañon said the law will allot an annual budget for the council to bolster the industry’s growth.

He said that the industry has prepared a draft bill and they need a House member to sponsor it in Congress.

Citing President Rodrigo R. Duterte, Philexport executive director Edwin Sotto said that the a law that will establish the National Banana Industry Council “is long overdue” to address pests and diseases as well as, issues hounding the players.

“It was no other than the president who endorsed the process. He doesn’t like an executive order. He would prefer a congressional law that would create a Banana Industry Development Council,” he said.

He said the law will establish the National Banana Research Center that will find cures to diseases like the Fusarium-wilt, or the Panama disease, that has affected over 15,500 hectares in Davao Region.

Duterte told the National Banana Congress on October 7 that he supports the call for the creation of the council and the research center to address concerns besetting the industry, but not through an executive order.

Duterte said he did not sign the draft executive order prepared by the industry leaders on the proposed council and research center, citing a law is needed for these bodies to get sufficient funding.

“The proposed measure is the creation of a Banana Industry Development Council. Now it should be a law, I cannot give executive order. So, because if you need something, money or otherwise; if you need government to intervene – the legal standing has to be something like there is a law, the force of law in the creation of the banana research institute,” he said.

Marañon said the interim council is composed of big banana growers, exporters, medium and small growers, processors, cooperatives, and agrarian reform beneficiaries from all over the country.

It also includes government representatives, including Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Trade secretary Ramon Lopez, and Interior and Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno, he said.

It is tasked to keep track of the progress of the proposed measure in Congress, he added. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)