This case is an environmental conflict with Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS), based in Davao City, to ban aerial spraying of pesticides/fungicides in banana plantations. The conflict area is Davao City in southern Mindanao. MAAS is conducting a countrywide environmental campaign to enforce an ordinance banning the aerial spraying of pesticides that the Davao City government passed in 2007 . Philippines is the second largest exporter of banana plantations in the world, followed by India and China . The banana industry is essential in Davao City and the Mindanao region . In 2000, a report by Dr Quijano and his daughter on health hazards due to aerial spraying of pesticides in rural areas of Davao de Sul was published . The report mentions the use of pesticides in banana plantations as the cause of the enormous impact on plants, livestock, and the human body . In 2001, LADECO banana plantation filed a lawsuit against the reporter and publisher for criminal libel charges. This lawsuit was the first case of anti-pesticide spraying [4, p. 9]. Department of Health investigation in 2006 found that pesticide aerial spraying was the cause of health hazards to the residents of Kamukhaan, Davao del Sur . In 2007, the Davao City government passed a ban ordinance on pesticide aerial spraying [4, p.9]. However, in 2009, the Court of Appeals ruled the ordinance unconstitutional [4, p10]. The Davao City Council and MAAS elevated the case to the Supreme Court [4, p10]; in 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that the relevant ordinance was unconstitutional. In 2019, Interface for Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS) confirmed the continuation and resumption of aerial spraying in banana plantation plantations in Davao City . This case is an environmental justice dispute in which MAAS is seeking a response from the government by expanding the conflict from Davao City to the entire country [4, p.3]. There are also echos abroad- Japan is one main importer of bananas from the Philippines . While the government of the Philippines was forced to choose between its drive for export dollars and its responsibility to protect public health as opposition to aerial spraying of pesticides continued to mount, the environmental campaigners wanted to enlist Japanese consumers in their fight to permanently ban the practice because 45 percent of the nation’s bananas were exported to Japan..
The organisations involved in this project are
MAAS and IDIS. MAAS was formed mainly by farmers in Davao City and initially requested the city government to ban aerial spraying of banana plantations. Their activities have now expanded nationwide for a ban on aerial spraying on plantations . IDIS was registered as a non-profit in 1999 in Davao , which discussed the aerial spraying ban with political parties . In the Davao City Senate resolution, the opposition of MAAS and IDIS was to function as a civil society strategy [4, p.10]. The Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) appealed to the Court of Appeal on the unconstitutional ruling on adopting the aerial spraying ban ordinance in 2007 [4, p.9]. They sought an unconstitutional judgement because of the impact on profits of banana plantations producing for export in the Davao City area [4, p.9]. The Court of Appeal made the unconstitutional decision in 2009 and did the Supreme Court in 2016.
The Court of Appeal focused on establishing a 30-metre buffer zone in agricultural land holdings, regardless of the size designated. They cited this as a reason for the unconstitutional decision, “it shows an arbitrary and dictatorial intention on the part of the city government”. Additionally, concerning the switchover period from aerial spraying to ground spraying is only three months, the Court of Appeal mentioned that “the ordinance invades on the due process rights of the banana plantation side” [4, p.26].
The Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional because the Davao City Government has no authority to regulate or control the use of pesticides and chemicals, which is beyond their rights [9; 4, p.26].
In Panabo city, northeast of Davao City, city councillors expressed support for the aerial spraying of pesticides in a rally organised by banana company officials and the PBGEA in 2013 . Banana plantations account for 70% of the agribusiness in Panabo city.
Department of Agriculture has made no official position statement, and MAAS has criticised the administration’s attitude regarding health hazards to the population .
On the Government side, 13 bills on the prohibition of aerial spraying were introduced between 2010 and 2016 [4, p.5]. However, all the bills have been scrapped without being adopted.
A challenge with aerial spraying in banana plantations is the continuous random spraying of multiple chemical formulations - commonly known as ‘Chemical Cocktails’ - . Paredes (11) reports that this is done deliberately to prevent the targeted pathogens from becoming resistant to certain chemicals. However, the formulation of the chemicals is a black box, as it is constantly changing, and the dosage is not specified. This fact prevents them from showing the necessary direct causation when claiming harm to the human body. A survey conducted by IDIS in 2011 reported that trace amounts of pesticides were detected in the air and at the watershed of rivers (Tilomo-Lipadas and Panigan-Tamugan) . Moreover, the United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSP) on the Right to Food urged the Philippine Government to address pesticide spraying as a risk to public health in 2014 .
Aerial spraying is cost-effective and can be applied rapidly over large areas . Proponents of aerial spraying deny any impact on human health as aerial spraying targets specific pathogens . Additional infrastructure and labour investments related to transitioning from aerial spraying to ground spraying are also pointed out . Small drones to spread efficient aerial pesticide spraying is adopted by some farmers .(See less)