The Regional Trial Court suspended the city ordinance that is supposed to take effect tomorrow, June 23. The Davao City residents who claimed to have been affected by the chemicals sprayed from the air by banana companies denounced the decision. “Our agony will be prolonged,” said one of them.

By Germelina A. Lacorte
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — The Regional Trial Court temporarily suspended on Thursday the enforcement of a landmark ordinance banning aerial spraying on banana plantations in the city.

The ordinance, approved by the City Council in March and is supposed to take effect tomorrow, June 23, would be suspended for three months, the court said in a ruling that favors the banana companies, which had earlier filed an injunction against the local law.

In a decision issued only three days before the ban was to take effect, Judge Renato Fuentes of the Regional Trial Court Branch 17 said the court recognized the need to grant the writ of preliminary injunction to banana companies because of a “certainty of grave and irreparable damage and injuries the petitioner will suffer if the remedy is not granted.”

A preliminary injunction is granted to stop a particular action before a final order is issued.

Banana plantations represented by the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) earlier filed a petition before the courts stopping the enforcement of the ban on aerial spraying commonly practiced among banana plantations in the city. The companies cited the financial and technical difficulties a ground-spraying method would entail.

The City Council had approved the city ordinance in March after a strong lobby from environment groups on the hazards that aerial spraying pose to health and the environment. The ordinance gave the banana plantations a three-month transition period before the June 23 deadline to comply with the ban.

But PBGEA contested the ordinance by bringing the city to court, which then initiated marathon hearings to hear the banana companies’ petition.

Banana companies argued that they would need over 400 million pesos just to shift to ground spraying. Corporate officials also questioned the constitutionality of what they call an “oppressive” ordinance.

People belonging to the group Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (Citizens against Aerial Spraying) were saddened by the decision.

“Our agony will be prolonged,” said Dagohoy Magaway, spokesman of Maas, the citizens’ group that has been fiercely opposing aerial spraying. “We will continue to bathe and breathe toxic chemicals in the air. Slow, painful death will continue to stalk people living close to banana plantations.”

Magaway said people are worried about the chemical’s ill effects on people’s health and the environment. He said that aerial spraying is more oppressive because it exposes a large number of people who are poor to toxic chemicals that threaten health and may even cause death.

“All these banana companies want is profit,” Magaway said. “They don’t care if people are dying of toxic chemicals.” (Germelina A. Lacorte/davaotoday.com)

  • Brian Buonanni

    Today, July 6, 2007. Banana spraying planes buzz my house on a regular basis but never as many times as today. I counted 16 times and it could have been more. I have a neighbor who worked on the banana plantation for years until they switched to tempoary workers,: he is sterile! Former maid lives next to plantation, she has boils on her skin all the time. We need the jobs but not the associated diseases and noise pollution.

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