Friday, October 16, 2009

House speaker supports early passage of bill banning hazardous pesticides in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines - Speaker Prospero Nograles endorsed the immediate approval of a bill banning hazardous pesticides in agricultural production, which cause cancer, birth defects, cerebral palsy and asthma among farm workers and their families in many parts of the country.

Nograles ordered the House Committee on Ecology headed by Representative Belma Cabilao (1st District, Zamboanga-Sibugay) to conduct a public hearing and ocular inspection of the some fruit and vegetable plantations in Davao.

Representative Rufus Rodriguez (2nd District, Cagayan de Oro City), principal author of House Bill 5573 banning the use of hazardous aerial pesticides spray in farms, lauded the action taken by Nograles.

"With the support of the Speaker, the Committee on Ecology headed by Representative Cabilao can now conduct an in-depth study on the matter with all parties concerned present during the public hearing," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the public hearings and ocular inspection would be conducted on November 20, 2009 in Davao provinces.

"We expect all the stakeholders to be heard like the Mamamayan Against Aerial Spray (MAAS), the Bishops and other religious groups and the Davao city government, which has adopted a resolution banning aerial spraying,”" Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the public hearing would also be the venue for the banana growers and the fertilizer owners to be given a chance to air their side.

"The aerial spray, a method used in many farms all over the country, which causes harmful effects should be banned. Its like spraying poison to people, fruits, vegetable and plants," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the bill seeks to ban the use of Dithane, a fungicide chemical, which is being sprayed to banana plantations in Davao provinces.

The Philippine Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority has classified Dithane in the least hazardous category but studies done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reveals that it contains cancer-causing elements.

Rodriguez said the Kalusugan Alang-Alang sa Bayan, Inc. in Sirib, Davao del Sur reported that nine patients who were exposed to Dithane have died of cancer in a banana plantation in Davao City.

Rodriguez said studies show that Dithane causes fever, eye-irritation, skin rashes, nausea and vomiting among the people living near the plantations

Davao City passed on February 2007 an ordinance banning the spraying of pesticides. The Office of the Solicitor General even upheld the ordinance when the plantation owners questioned the constitutionality of the ban.

However, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision and issued an injunction to stop the ban. (Salvacion Beleo)

No comments: