Exec policy on aerial spray ban pushed-A A +A
Thursday, February 7, 2013
ANTI-AERIAL spraying activists, commemorating the 6th anniversary of the passage of the Davao City Anti-Aerial Spraying Ordinance, asked the Aquino administration on Thursday to issue a definite executive policy on the banning of the dangerous agricultural practice in Mindanao's monocrop plantations.
"Since 2010, several national inter-agency meetings have already been conducted to discuss the issue and come up with a unified policy but until now, there is still no official government stand on this controversial issue," said Mary Ann Fuertes, executive director of Interface Development Interventions (Idis).
Idis has been supporting the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (Maas) grassroots campaign against aerial spraying in plantations in Southern Mindanao.
According to Fuertes, President Benigno Aquino III had instructed the Presidential Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to take the lead in coming up with recommendations, but until now it has yet to issue its report.
"We were told that the PCSD had decided to conduct a cost-benefit study of the aerial spraying practice to aid them in making their policy recommendations. And yet, as of December 2012, there is still no study being conducted since it still lacks funds from the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources)," she said.
But for Maas president Dagohoy Magaway, the PCSD's insistence on the conduct of another study seeks to reduce this issue to a question of economics.
"Why is the government focusing on the economic aspects of this case when the real issue here is our right to a clean and healthy environment?" Magaway said.
Maas and its supporters are against aerial spraying because the pesticide drift coming from the spray planes often hits the communities situated near monocrop plantations, contaminating the water supply and causing sickness in the local population.
Magaway pointed out that even the Department of Health (DOH) has released a study documenting the negative impact of pesticide drift on the health of the residents in the communities.
The DOH study was also instrumental in convincing the Commission on Human Rights to also issue their resolution supporting the recommendation to ban aerial spraying in plantations.
Both national agencies issued their recommendations during the Arroyo and Aquino administrations but until now, no direct action has been undertaken.
"Do not reduce us to merely an economic issue. More than anything, this is an issue of human rights," Magaway said. "Environmental justice must be served."
Both groups are appealing to President Aquino to issue an executive order for a temporary moratorium while the PCSD impact study is being conducted.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 08, 2013.