“POISONED” VILLAGERS TO DOH:
NO TO AERIAL SPRAY BAN
Residents of Sitio Camocaan, Barangay Aplaya in Hagonoy town of Davao del Sur called on the Department of Health to reconsider their call for a stop to aerial spraying of fungicide in view of its serious repercussions to the banana industry and to their livelihood.
The community appeal was aired by Mayor Franco Calida, barangay officials, sectoral representatives and villagers in a “People’s Inquiry” forum hosted by the municipal government and attended by representatives of the DOH led by Prof. Allan Dionisio of the UP Poison Management and Control Center.
Dionisio was lead investigator of the controversial DOH study four years ago which found ethylene thiourea (ETU), a byproduct of fungicide degradation, in the blood samples of three Camocaan residents probably due to aerial spraying. The same study, however, also found ETU in blood samples of Sitio Baliwaga residents where no aerial sprayings are conducted leading residents to question their call for an aerial spray ban.
Sitio Baliwaga is in Sta. Cruz town which is very far from a banana plantation but where residents were found to have more health problems than in Sitio Camocaan.
Dionisio openly admitted that they do not know anything about aerial spraying alleging that the banana companies, at the time of their study, did not cooperate which a banana industry representative debunked as “baseless.”
“How can they recommend a ban on aerial spraying when they are totally ignorant how it is done,” said Pastor Tamayo, a longtime Camocaan resident who used to work as a flagman at the nearby banana plantation and whose house is right in the line of sight of aerial spraying operations.
Tamayo said he is totally dumbfounded by the suggestion of Dr. Annabelle Yumang of the DOH for banana plantations to shift to ground spraying which he said is a “stone-age technology and very wasteful as it puts more fungicide on the ground than on the banana leaves where the Black Sigatoka fungi are found.”