CA hit for failure to decide on aerial spraying

Aug. 26, 2008

The coalition Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (Maas) was appalled over the failure of the court of appeals (CA) to decide on the case that questioned the constitutionality of Davao City ordinance that banned aerial spraying in banana plantations.

The CA’s branch 21, formerly branch 22, was supposed to come up with its decision based on the case filed by the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) on the last Monday of July, six months after the court issued the writ of preliminary injunction on the ordinance. The revised rules of court provides that any case that has been issued an injunction shall be decided six months after the issuance of an injunction.

Cecilia Moran, a member of Maas , said the failure of the CA justices to beat the deadline showed how little they valued the safety of the lives of the people and the protection of the environment.

It was so easy for the CA justices to issue the temporary restraining order (TRO) and eventually the writ of preliminary injunction, how come they’ve been so slow to decide on the constitutionality of the ordinance? What gives? Moran said.

We do not want to lose faith in the country’s justice system but it seems that the CA justices in Cagayan de Oro are taking their own sweet time at the expense of our safety and the future of our children. We are aghast at how lightly they treat (this case) when lives are seriously at stake, Moran added.

The Davao City regional trial court branch 17 upheld the constitutionality and validity of the ordinance in September last year after PBGEA assailed the ordinance as unconstitutional. The PBGEA then filed an urgent motion for the issuance of a TRO and/or writ of preliminary injunction at the 22nd division of the court of appeals in Cagayan de Oro City.

Immediately in November, the CA justices ruled in favor of PBGEA and issued a TRO which was followed by the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction in January. On May 22, the CA denied the motion for reconsideration earlier filed by the city government.

On June 20, the office of the solicitor general (OSG) upheld the ruling of the lower court and recommended for the immediate implementation of the ordinance, citing the police power inherent to local government units. The OSG’s comment came upon the request of the CA.

Looking back at the timeline, it is quite obvious that it was easy for the CA to come up with decisions that favored the interest of PBGEA. There was no single decision that CA gave in favor of the people opposed to aerial spraying and to the city government who passed that ordinance, Moran said.

Moran said that Maas also laments the CA’s apparent disregard of the importance of the comment and recommendation. Maas said that they were informed that the CA has just raffled the case last week, a few days before a decision should have been made.

Last week, members of communities affected by aerial spraying trooped to the Supreme Court together with their lawyers and support groups under the task force against aerial spray (TFAAS) to file their petition for certiorari asking the court to reverse the preliminary injunction issued by the court of appeals on the local ordinance banning the said agricultural practice.#

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