LGUs raise alarm against pseudo-environmentalists
by G Aquino
Davao City (24 June) -- Mayors pestered by what they call as "pseudo-environmentalists" have called on tribal communities to "be wary against said elements whose massive disinformation campaign has no other purpose than to sow discord, destabilize the community and destroy people's livelihood by gutting the productivity of the Philippine banana industry."
Mayor Cesar Colina of Maragusan municipality in Compostela Valley aired the alarm Thursday after receiving reports that persons claiming to be staff members of a non-government organization (NGO) sought the signatures of tribesmen to a resolution calling for an immediate halt on aerial spraying and for banana plantations to outright shift to ground spraying and organic farming.
"There might be some truth to their arguments but their approach is highly adversarial and one-sided and they offer no viable alternative," Colina said.
Colina said that the banana industry is their main source of livelihood and that it is the consensus of the majority of his constituents that strict control and regulation of aerial spraying of fungicide is the answer to whatever imagined ill-health caused by the practice.
Mayor Franco Calida of Hagonoy town in Davao del Sur earlier lambasted the said group of "using poor communities just to raise funds for their own expense accounts" citing their claims of sick and dying people in Sitio Camocaan as outright lies.
Calida also told local media that he was informed by concerned citizens about an NGO calling on members of the cultural community in Sitio Budoy to sign a petition against aerial spraying.
"The said NGO is reportedly circulating the petition to disgruntled residents most of whom were terminated from work in the nearby banana plantation for causes ranging from alcoholism to habitual absenteeism," said Calida.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Lia Jasmin Esquillo of the Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS), the funding agency of the Mamamayan Ayaw Sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS), said that "we do not know anything about such petitions." A certain Luciana P. Capinda and Roselle P. Capinda, however, had their names affixed on the petition and identified themselves as "IDIS staff." Copies of said petition have been furnished the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority and the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Esquillo was also earlier quoted in a video interview saying "there is no need for a scientific study to ban aerial spraying as the fact that people are complaining is reason enough to ban the practice."
The big and small banana growers in Davao City debunked Esquillo's claim as pure hearsay.
"It's nothing but a demolition job against Davao's banana industry which have captured more than ninety percent of the Japanese market," said a land reform beneficiary-turned-banana grower from Tamayong, Calinan who requested anonymity. (PIA/with EBinag and JGorgonio of Devcom Mindanao) [top]