By ROGER M. BALANZA
The banana industry has scored an environmental activist for using Japanese media to call for a boycott by Japanese of Davao bananas.
According to a coalition of banana farm cooperatives in the Davao Region, Lia Esquillo-Villarin, of Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) has “bad manners and was grossly anti-Filipino” for calling on the Japanese consumers to boycott Davao Region’s major dollar earning industry.
Esquillo-Villarin in a report by Kyodo News Agency was also quoted as saying that “Philippine banana companies are only after profit” and urged the Japanese to write banana grower and importer Sumifru to abandon aerial spraying she alleges as threats to public health and the environment. Aerial spraying however is approved by the government.
Idis is in the forefront of opposition to aerial spraying in banana plantations in the Davao Region.
Ceferino Buquia, chair of the Checkered Farms Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative said that Esquillo-Villarin insulted Philippine political and social institutions with her display of crab-mentality.”
Industry sources however say that they are not bothered at all by Esquillo-Villarin’s antics as “the Philippine export banana industry strictly adheres to all the protocols of ensuring the quality and safety of bananas and at the same time protecting people’s health and the environment established by the Japanese Ministry of Health. Labour and Welfare.”
One of the leading companies, UNIFRUTTI, is also affiliated with Rainforest Alliance which actively promotes environmental protection while others are ISO-certified which means that they follow good agricultural practices.
“We gain nothing by bickering over issues of health and the environment that have been resolved,” said PBGEA President Stephen A. Antig.