Women-farmers take witness stand for spray ban

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/7 June) – Two women farmers will complete six
witnesses prepared by the city government and the group of third-party
intervenors to defend the implementation of the city’s ordinance
banning aerial spraying.

Rosita Bacalso, 54, and Virginia Cataag, 52, both from Sirib village
in Calinan district, will take the witness stand Friday to testify on
behalf of the 12-member intervenors allowed by the Regional Trial
Court to be represented in the trial over the temporary injunction
case filed by the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association.

Lawyer Reymund Salas, counsel of the intervenors, will present them in
the marathon hearing conducted by RTC 17 Judge Renato Fuentes since
last week to “expedite” what he called as a “high-profile” case for
the involvement of many sectors in the community.Sirib village in Davao’s upland Calinan district is one of the
affected areas of aerial spraying, according to the pro-ban group
Interface Development Initiatives (IDIS). Villagers reportedly noticed
normalcy of productivity of their crops when aerial spraying was
stopped there a year ago.

The two witnesses were expected to present evidence of effects of
aerial spraying to their health, crops, and the quality of water.

Another lady farmer from Kapalong town in Davao del Norte, where
banana plantations are wider, joined a retired pilot Wednesday in
testifying for the city government.

Col. Napoleon Escolano Concepcion, a retired commercial airline pilot
who was involved with waste management and pollution control,
testified that even the Deferential Global Positioning System-equipped
airplanes, bragged by the banana industry as a precise tool for aerial
spraying, does not stop drift from reaching “non-target areas”.

He told the court there is no machine or equipment which can control
the speed or flow of any chemicals or liquids released by any airplane
in flight.

Residents living near banana plantations claim chemicals brought by
drifts caused health and environmental hazards.

The city government started presenting evidence Tuesday in its defense
why the writ for temporary injunction should not be issued to block
the implementation of the ordinance.

Last week, PBGEA presented six witnesses. The businessmen claimed the
city passed the ordinance with no sufficient basis.

The trial came in the run-up to the implementation of the ban on June
22, three months after it was passed by the city council and approved
as ordinance by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Lawyers said if all the parties would rest the case and will not
petition more witnesses, the judge would be given 60 days to decide.

The DILG has considered the filing of the case in court as the best
way to go out of the tug-of-war between the city government and the
banana industry. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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