aerial spray

PRES. ARROYO SHIES AWAY FROM AERIAL SPRAY BAN

MYVIEWS

Idis, Maas run berserk

By ROGER M. BALANZA

First they forged the signature of Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla in an alleged church issuance supporting aerial spraying. Then they insulted Court of Appeals justices in Cagayan de Oro by gifting them with rotten bananas for thrashing the Davao City ordinance banning aerial spraying. Running amok after shaming the justices, they chained themselves at the gates of the justice building, which was followed by a die-in at a Cagayan de Oro City main avenue where they disrupted traffic and were arrested.

Inspired by a tsunami of donations from abroad, they held a vigil at the Supreme Court—where the Davao City ordinance is facing as dull a fate as it did in the appeals court in Cagayan de Oro City—believing that noises and lies could influence the high court against aerial spraying.

They have been peddling the lie that there are toxic showers from aerial spraying—a claim persistently denied by government agencies—with a nationwide campaign of toxic lies against the banana industry.

The pseudo-environmentalists just could not satisfy their hunger for publicity to sell the tall tale that aerial spraying is bad for the health.

Now, IDIS (Interface Development Interventions) and MAAS (Mamamayang Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying) are pushing their comical stunts farther, this time aiming their bazookas at Malacanang.

Hey, Philippines! These NGOs from Davao City—where NGO, because of IDIS and MAAS, now means No Good Organization—are nothing but a pack of paid hustlers using the aerial spraying issue to lure foreign donors for their cause that no one believes in the banana-growing Davao Region.

Malacanang on Thursday cancelled an executive meeting with government line agencies—that would have provided inputs on the fate of aerial spraying. At the center of discussion would have been a Department of Health order yet to be signed by Secretary Arthur Yap that would ban aerial spraying.

A motley group of IDIS and MAAS elements led a protest outside Malacañang Gate 5 over the cancellation of the executive meeting, with shaved heads, angry and frustrated. Some students from the Ateneo de Manila—who could not have seen a banana tree—joined the ruckus that hardly attracted attention.

The banana industry concentrated in the Davao Region and neighboring provinces is one of the biggest industries in the country employing more than 200,000 directly-hired workers and earning $400 million in exports annually.

Fungicide used in aerial spraying against the deadly black sigatoka is non-toxic, according to the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) which said that no one has died from exposure to aerial spraying in the forty years that it had been used in banana plantations in Davao. The claim by IDIS and MAAS that people have been dying in communities near the plantations, that they suffer from skin and respiratory diseases, also have been disputed by the Department of Health and the Regional Interagency Committee on Environment and Health in Region Eleven, and by a Special Investigating Team organized by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte composed of the City Planning and Development Office, the City Legal Office and the City Health Office.

Methink, Secretary Yap is misled by the tsunami of lies peddled by IDIS and MAAS. Methink, GMA, no matter her low regard for anything that pleases us, is smart enough not to believe liars, her self having much experience in the field of lying. Methink, GMA knows that aerial spraying is bad for the health of the banana industry and the hundreds of thousands of workers and their families depending on the industry; and good only for IDIS’ and MAAS’ clever agenda to get loads of dollars from foreign donor agencies.

That is the reason why GMA aborted the Thursday meeting with the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

GMA has no time to discuss Secretary Yap’s pending order banning aerial spraying or IDIS’ and MAAS’ lies against aerial spraying. GMA has made her mind: banana and aerial spraying are here to stay and that IDIS’ and MAAS’ arguments against the industry are as rotten as rotten bananas.

If GMA is running for president in 2010, I would campaign and vote for her for saving the banana industry. Unfortunately, she could not.

NOW IDIS AND MAAS ARE ANGRY.

“This wasn’t the only reason that angered us but also Malacañang’s corresponding order to create a task force to study on aerial spraying,” said Lia Esquillo, IDIS chairman, in an interview with Sunstar Davao. The study, according to her, is a win-win situation for the banana industry: the study could turn in favor of export Cavendish bananas’ battle against sigatoka—a fast spreading leaf disease that could cripple the dollar earning industry—or could be used by banana farmers to continue aerial spraying until after the completion of the study.

Malacanang is siding with the banana plantations, Esquillo said.

“What we’ve kept on saying was that all three departments, DA, DOH, DENR, have already given their reactions that aerial spraying is harmful then why do we still have to conduct more study? These are all executive bodies. Why question their observations?” Esquillo said.

Oooops! Methink, Ms. Lia is lying again.

DA, DOH, DENR merely adopted a study commissioned two years ago conducted by a team from the University of the Philippines in Camocaan, Hagonoy, Davao Del Sur, indicating threat to health from aerial spraying. Ms. Lia should tell her public that that study had been declared “inconclusive” and has been subjected to peer review to validate its findings. If there are rotten bananas, there are also studies that are shot full of rotten data.

When it comes to lying, MAAS and IDIS are good at mobilizing loudspeakers to reecho the lies to the border of truth.

“The government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo missed the opportunity to correct gross injustice that has been happening for over 30 years by playing into the hands of corporate interest,” said National Task Force Against Aerial Spraying (NTFAAS) coordinator Rene Pineda, said the report in Sunstar, NTFAAS is an offspring of IDIS led by Esquillo and MAAS founded by Dags Magaway. When two liars cohabitate, they sire nothing else but a liar.

“Malacañang’s inaction manifests its lack of concern to the plight and health of ordinary people. It also failed to make decisive action despite recommendation from it very own Health Department,” said Manny Calonzo, president of the EcoWaste Coalition. DOH, FPA and Davao City Hall have said no one has died nor has contracted disease from exposure to aerial spraying and Calonzo would know this if he visits Davao City Council records of proceedings on the aerials spray ban ordinance and the banana plantations in Davao City where banana farmers and growers have declared Esquillo and Magaway as persona non grata for lying against industry that fed them for decades.

“Natiis naming tumira dito sa Maynila ng limang buwan at matulog sa tabi ng kalsada tapos ito ang pamasko ni Presidente Gloria? Wala talaga siyang awa sa aming mga mahihirap,” said Loloy Languitan, a farmer from Maragusan, Compostela Valley. My advice to Loloy is that he ask in what five-star hotel Esquillo and her gang checked in while he slept in the sidewalks.

“We will go back to Davao to tell people that GMA (Arroyo) has blood in her hands. She is condoning the silent massacre of thousands of helpless rural poor living in banana plantations,” said Tom Villarin of the Siad Initiatives in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Rural Development (Simcarrd), an NGO promoting sustainable agriculture and member of NTFAAS. Would the Dabawenyos believe you, Mr. Villarin?

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