Group seeks stricter measures vs aerial spray in Davao

Davao City Hall. June 2017 photo from the City Government of Davao FB page

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 08 August) – Environment group Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) on Monday said it will ask the city council to impose stricter regulations on the use of aerial spray two years after the Supreme Court upheld the 2009 decision of the Court of Appeals declaring the ordinance banning aerial spraying as unconstitutional.

But IDIS executive director Chinkie Pelino-Golle admitted in an interview that it would be difficult to find a councilor who will sponsor such an ordinance.

“Whoever commits would mean they have a heart to re-file the local measure,” she said, adding they have held talks with one council member.

She said they hope City Mayor Sara Duterte would support the proposed measure.

In 2007, the city council passed Ordinance 0309-07, which banned aerial spraying “in all agriculture entities” in Davao City. It cited as basis the risks posed by such practice to the environment and human health

In 2009, however, the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a petition filed by banana growers to declare the ordinance unlawful.

Golle said they will attend to the reasons the Supreme Court cited in declaring the ordinance unconstitutional, including the provision on the “ban” itself as the High Court ruled that only the Fertilizers and Pesticides Authority may regulate the use of agricultural chemicals.

Asked for comment, Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association executive director Stephen Antig said: “They can go ahead. Unless they have new supporting documents to submit, then it is nothing new.”

He added they will just wait for any development if it reaches the council.

Golle said they are planning to map out the communities that have plantations, and ask the companies to limit their aerial spraying activities there.

She said they want companies to refrain from using aerial spray in the city’s watersheds because such method might cause the degradation of these areas.

She said another reason why the High Court struck down the ordinance was that the grace period of three months was inadequate for banana companies to convert from aerial to ground spray or manual spray.

“It seems that it wasn’t true because many companies had already converted except for one company,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)