Thursday, June 12, 2008

Court upholds ban on aerial spraying in Davao

A Davao court has upheld an ordinance banning aerial spraying operation, recognizing the constitutionality of the local government order and the need to protect the health of the public.

Online news site MindaNews reported Monday that Judge Renato Fuentes of the Davao City regional trial court-Branch 17 threw out a legal challenge to the ordinance.

"After a very extensive review and careful evaluation of the voluminous records submitted, arguments and complicated positions from the parties, the court cannot sustain the theory and position of the petitioners in assailing the validity and constitutionality of the subject City Ordinance," Fuentes said in a 37-page decision.

The decision cleared the way for the Davao City government to implement the ordinance, six months after it was approved, and three months after the court suspended its implementation.

Fuentes over the weekend junked the petition of the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), saying the reasons for creating the ordinance was beyond question.

Stressing health concerns, Fuentes said there is "not only a necessity but a strong demand of urgency for the passing of said city ordinance."

The judge cited a testimony from Richard Billington, a British national who worked as an executive of bio-chemical company Dow AgroSciences European Development Center.

"When confronted with the label of the fungicide Dithane, he admitted that his company has warned the public users of its dangerous effects to the health of human being with a disclaimer of responsibility of the company in case any untoward incident resulting in the adverse effect of said fungicide," the decision said.

Fuentes added that Billington's admission of the dangerous effect of Dithane "is enough to put the public to be aware of the said immediate danger poised by the particular fungicide."

He added that the disclaimer of the chemical's manufacturer "was patent admission of the chemical's adverse effect to the people."

However, the decision is the second blow to the city's banana industry after the City Council approval.

Last April, PBGEA petitioned to stop the implementation of the ordinance, claiming it is unconstitutional and did not give them enough time to prepare to shift from aerial to ground spraying.

PBGEA told the court it would need at least three years to shift to an alternative method in applying pesticides in the plantations and an investment of at least P400 million.

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