Banana farmers thumb down aerial spray ban
Davao City (3 October) -- Thousands of small banana growers and plantation workers took time off Wednesday for a solidarity march with agrarian reform beneficiaries and other sectors through the streets of Panabo City to dramatize their indignation against a Manila-based anti-aerial spray lobby.
"We call on members of Congress not to abuse their power to regulate and to give more weight to the voices of the stakeholders of the banana industry rather than the lies and hearsays of the few outsiders," said Panabo City Mayor Jose Silvosa.
Silvosa recalled that Panabo residents were using sprayed rainwater for drinking in the past and that he heard of no one among their population then of over 100,000 getting sick because of it.
"I was drenched with spray mists for sixteen years when I was working in a banana plantation and I can assure you that I am healthy," declared Romy Garcia now a successful small banana grower as he lambasted claims by the anti-spray lobby that antifungals are dermatologically harmful.
Rolly Espartero, chairperson of the 200-strong Paheco Multipurpose Cooperative, is particularly indignant at what he called "a presumptuously-named National Task Force Against Aerial Spraying under a certain Rene Pineda."
"It is one task force that threatens us with a calamity as destructive as Ondoy," said Espartero even as he expressed his group's sympathy to the typhoon victims that ravaged Metro Manila.
They brought with them foodstuffs and used clothing for the typhoon victims.
Espartero hopes that the message of Typhoon Ondoy is not lost to Pineda and his cohorts: that instead of bashing Mindanao's successful agricultural enterprises and non-risks such as aerial spraying, they should give attention to their own backyard especially Antipolo City where very serious and almost unmanageable geohazards, garbage and pollution daily threaten people's health and environment.
Meanhile, PBGEA spokesman Anthony Sasin said that "they are willing to open their books to the public at the same time that the foreign-funded non-government organizations lobbying against the Philippine export banana industry open theirs."
Sasin said that they are amenable to former COMELEC Chairman Christian Monsod's challenge so that "the public will know who is raising funds out of people's poverty and using the poor against the poor."
"The taxes we paid built roads, bridges, schools and health centers and never did we exploit the unemployeds and unemployables for causes that bring nothing but discord and underdevelopment, said Sasin. (Devcom Panabo) [top]