Plantation workers in pesticide case sought

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Friday, January 28, 2011


DAVAO CITY – Workers of banana plantations all over Mindanao are advised to check with a foundation here for their multi-billion peso claims against agrichemical and exporting firms that have been proven to have used a banned pesticide.

The case, which has been decided against United States agrichemical and Cavendish banana exporting companies that have used the banned Dibormochloropropane (DBCP), will compensate around 48,000 banana plantation workers in Mindanao, according to the Philippine Pioneer Banana Plantation Workers Inc. (PPBPWI).

PPBPWI said the firms include the Shell Oil Company, Dow Chemicals Company, Officental Chemical Corporation, Dole Food Company Inc., Chiquita Brands International, Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., and Del Monte Tropical Fruit Company.

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Only 37,000 workers have approached and submitted the needed documents to the PPBPWI and around 11,000 have yet to submit their documents.

The names of those who will be compensated are at the PPBPWI office in 882 Vinzons Street in Barrio Obrero, Davao City.

Unclaimed settlement amount will go the PPBPWI foundation and the Philippine Banned Pesticide and Chemical Watchdog Foundation Inc.

The Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Davao City will serve the summons soon to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) so the agency can serve summons to the US corporations to release the agreed compensation.

RTC Branch 11 Judge Virginia Hofileña-Europa granted the petition in court for extra territorial service of summons to the foreign companies filed by PPBPWI through their counsel, Rodolfo B. Ta-asan Jr.

The order, dated December 10, 2010, authorized the appointed Court Sheriff to deliver the summons to the DFA. The summons was served last December 15, 2010.

DFA office in the USA is expected to serve the summons to the head offices of the Shell Oil, Dow Chemicals, Occidental Chemical, Dole Food, Chiquita Brands, Del Monte Fresh Produce, and Del Monte Tropical Fruit.

In 1977, the US Environmental Protection Agency found that DBCP, which was heavily used as a fungicide in banana plantations, causes cancer and sterility. It was banned in the US in 1979 and in the Philippines in 1980.

However, plantations still used the chemicals even towards late 1980s.

In 1993, more than 16,000 banana plantation workers from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Hawaii, Costa Rica and the Philippines filed a class-action suit in Texas against the manufacturers and fruit companies.

A settlement agreement was reached in December 1998 but compensation has not been released. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 28, 2011.

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