THE DURIAN BEAT

No bananas for Xmas

CROSSFIRE

By ROGER M. BALANZA

No bananas for Xmas

The loneliest people in Davao City this Christmas season could be the 200 workers recently laid off by Lapanday Development Corporation (LADECO)—thanks to a city ordinance banning aerial spraying in banana plantations in the city.

Foreseeing dire straights ahead, Ladeco imposed the only option available to stem the economic impact of the ban by cutting down personnel. The ordinance that outlawed aerial spraying, the most effective and most economical method of applying fungicides against the deadly leaf disease sigatoka, forces plantations to shift to manual or boom spraying which would take a tremendous financial toll on the banana companies.

The Department of Trade and Industry had earlier warned the local government against passing the ordinance that could kill the industry and displace workers. The Ladeco experience is a sad testimony to the ban’s impact on banana workers and a confirmation of the DTI warning.

Would the pseudo-environmentalist NGOs (No Good Organizations in veteran columnist Tony Figueroa’s dictionary) Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) led by Lia Jasmine Esquillo and the Mamamayang Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS) headed by Dagohoy Magaway, which lobbied for the approval of the aerial spray ban, be Christian enough to sing Christmas carols to the displaced Ladeco workers and their families who are facing hunger from loss of jobs thanks to IDIS and MAAS? If only to lighten the pain of a bleak Christmas?

Never, we are sure. Because IDIS and MAAS have metamorphosed into extremely callous sadistic maniacs unmindful of the tragedy that befell on the workers because of the ban.

In a drunken rampage inspired by premature victory against the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), these NGOs (No Good Organizations) are resorting to contemptuous acts of holding pickets at the Court of Appeals in Cagayan de Oro City, where PBGEA has sought refuge with an appeal contesting the Davao City ordinance and the affirmation of the regional trial court of the legality of the ordinance.

These NGOs (No Good Organizations) have also embarked on a media propaganda campaign of lies about the ill effects to health of aerial spraying even as these unfounded claims have been disputed by such government agencies as the Department of Health and the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority in official position papers.

And IDIS and MAAS apparently want to quantify the sufferings of the displaced Ladeco workers by convincing other local government units in the Davao region to adopt the Davao City ordinance. If they succeed, that would mean threatening the livelihood of about 100,000 workers in the banana industry in the Davao Region, which is the second largest in the world and the biggest dollar earner and employer.

PBGEA is pushed to the wall by the aerial spray ban. It has offered a win-win solution in exchange for dropping its appeal with CA—to save the industry and thw workers—with closer monitoring by all sectors including IDIS and MAAS of aerial spraying, which under the present set-up is already being closely monitored by government agencies.

            But IDIS and MAAS, the simple minded bigots that they are, are laughing off this sincere effort as a ploy to what it allege as the perpetuation of the banana industry’s corporate greed.

But who is greedy? The PBGEA trying to save an industry facing death and thousands of workers facing unemployment? Or IDIS and MAAS whose twisted environmental concerns are aimed at luring foreign funding at the expense of the Davao Region’s economic future?PBGEA is open to stricter regulations and invested millions of pesos in new, more efficient and safe technology for aerial spraying. They have adopted industry-wide protocols to ensure protection of the environment and public health, under the supervision of government agencies through the government-mandated Multi-Partite Monitoring Teams.

But in extreme arrogance, IDIS and MAAS would have none of this win-win solution and want a total ban no matter its catastrophic cost to the Davao Region and its people, based on their absurd response to the PBGEA offer.

We have received reports that several key leaders of these NGOs (No Good Organizations) and one of their lawyers have jumped ship after finding out that IDIS and MAAS could be off springs of leftist groups whose agenda is to cripple the banana industry to weaken the local economy and eventually destroy the government.

The leftist tag could indeed be pinned on these NGOs (No Good Organizations) who claim to be representing the people. Their agenda stops at the attempt to kill the banana industry, without offering alternative employment to displaced workers.

Communism thrives best in an ocean of poverty. Is this the real agenda of these NGOs ( No Good Organizations) IDIS and MAAS?

Categories: THE DURIAN BEAT

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