Monday, 20 May 2019
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BAN AERIAL SPRAYING OF PESTICIDES
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO:

We unite with the rural poor communities in Mindanao and the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS) from Davao City, Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, and Compostela Valley in calling for an end to aerial spraying of agrochemicals in banana plantations.

Aerial spraying or the use of small planes to drop agrochemicals is a shameful and blatant disregard for the people’s right to health, environment and livelihoods. In aerial spraying, people do not have a choice. People’s personal boundaries are violated by the chemical trespass. The most adversely affected are the rural poor, the small farmers who live within and around banana plantations.

The 30-year practice of chemical trespassing has resulted in untold hardships because of the failure of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority and other government regulatory agencies to do their job despite repeated complaints from the affected  communities.

Now, the Department of Health (DOH) has finally spoken. After extensive study of Philippine and international data, DOH has declared aerial spraying a public health hazard that must be immediately stopped. The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the DOH position of good public health practice to protect populations from unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources(DENR), the other two government agencies involved in the issue, concur with the DOH position. DA has even drafted an order banning aerial spraying.

Madam President, your three main government agencies have already spoken, yet aerial spraying continues. It is time to heed the voices of the poorest among your people. It is time to remind the banana industry that it is their corporate responsibility to abide by the findings and recommendations of the DOH. Please issue, or cause to be issued, the order banning aerial spraying, now.

Ending poison rain is your historic legacy to the people of Mindanao and the entire nation. And for the MAAS farmers and the directly affected communities in particular, a worthy Christmas gift of justice from their President.

We deplore the stance of the billion-dollar export banana industry led by the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) which continues to deny the truth and to resist the legitimate clamor to stop aerial spraying.

PBGEA’s claim that banning aerial spraying would mean the death of the banana industry is belied by: (a) The findings of the DA that there are viable alternatives to aerial spraying in protecting agricultural plants without the harm from widespread pesticide drift inherent in aerial spraying, such as shifting to organic farming in the long-term and using manual and boom spraying in the short and medium term. (b) The continued operations and profitability of banana plantations in areas where aerial spraying has been banned, such as in the provinces of Bukidnon and Northern Cotabato.

Economic development could never be pursued at the expense of human rights and lives. Even worse is when corporate greed asks to take precedence over public health in the guise of protecting the livelihood of those dependent on the industry. Given the international price for bananas, they have more than enough profits to share with others.

Signed:

Coalitions:
Eco Waste Coalition; Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC); Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy (Green Convergence) ; Go Organic Mindanao (GOM); World Environment Day Philippines (WED-Philippines) ; Ang Katipunan ng mga Samahang Maharlika; Movement for the Advancement of Sustainable Agriculture- Mindanao (MASA-Mindanao) ; Watershed Management Coordinating Council (WMCC)

Political Parties/Institutes
Akbayan Citizens Action Party; Partido Kalikasan

NGOs:
ACORD; Alternative Research for Empowerment; BALAOD Mindanao; BARRIOS, Inc; CARET; Center for Popular Empowerment (CPE); Concerned Citizens Against Pollution (COCAP); Davao ProvincesRural Development Institute (DPRDI); Earth Renewal Project; Foodfirst Information & Action Network-Philippines (FIAN-Phils) ; Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA); Greenpeace Southeast Asia; Health Care Without Harm; HEED Foundation; Institute for Educational and Ecological Alternatives (IDEAS); Interface Development Interventions Inc (IDIS); International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN); Institute for Strategic Initiatives (ISI); Kaisahan tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan (KAISAHAN); Kababayan-en Alang sa Teknolohiya nga Haum sa Kinaiyahan ug Kauswagan (KATAKUS); Krusada sa Kalikasan; Magungaya Center for Palma, Inc; Mother Earth Foundation (MEF); METSA; Mindanao Initiatives fr Nationalism and Development (MIND); November 17 Movement; People’s Alternative Development Center (PADC); Pesticide Action Network-Philippines (PAN-Phils); Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA); PPRDI; Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN); Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong May Taya sa Inang Kalikasan (SALIKA); Southeast Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE); Sibuyan IslandSentinels League for Environment Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE); SIAD Initiatives in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development (SIMCARRD); Solidarity for Peace, Equity, Empowerment for Developmnet (SPEED); Third World Network (TWN); Zero Waste Philippines

Peoples' Organizations:
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL); Kaakbay ng Barangay at Mamamayan tungo sa Kaunlaran (KAAKBAY); KABINULLIGAN (Rosales Farmers’ Federation); Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS)-Davao City; Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS)-Davao del Sur; Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS)-Davao del Norte; Mamamayan Ayaw
sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS)-Compostela Valley; Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA); PAMANAKA (Pederasyon ng mga Magsasaka ng Munoz na Nagkakaisa para sa Kaunlaran); PANAW-SUMILAO MPC; Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan (PKSK); Task Force Mapalad (TFM); UGNAYAN

School Based:
Adamson University Extension Services; Ateneo Student Catholic Action (AtSCA); ACIL; Ateneo de Manila Sanggunian; Holy Trinity Academy-Sampaloc Manila; Panthera Jurist Law Fraternity; Social Involvement Office-Xavier University; Student Ministry and Social Concerns Office-College of the Holy Spirit Manila; Prof. Germilino Bautista, Ateneo de Manila
Economics Department

Church Based:
Bishop Honesto Pacana, Diocese of Malaybalay, Bukidnon; Caritas Manila; Archdiocese of ManilaMinistry on Ecology; CBCP-NASSA; Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB); Fr. Anton CT Pascual; Bro. Karl Gaspar, CsSR; Fr. Jett Villarin SJ, Xavier University President; Fr. Robert Reyes, Kubol Pag-asa; Fr. Elpidio de Peralta, Jr.,Parish Priest Christ the King of the Universe Parish; Fr. Jose A. Cabantan, Social Action-Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro; Radio Veritas 846; Justice and Peace, Social ActionCenter-Marbel

Personalities/ Individuals:
Dr. Mario J. Aguja; Coun. Dennis Alcoreza; Atty. Arlene Bag-ao; Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel ; Rep. Walden Bello; Dr. Nina Galang; Jeanette Birondo-Goddard; Atty. Marlon Manuel; Atty. Christian Monsod; Atty. Antonio Oposa; Sen. Aquilino Pimentel; Dr. Romeo Quijano