DAVAO CITY — Following the decision of the Supreme Court declaring Davao City’s aerial spray ban as unconstitutional, a councilor suggested to regulate than prohibit it.
City Councilor Diosdado Mahipus, chair of the City Council committee on environment and natural resources suggested that the local government revisit Ordinance No. 309-7, the ordinance banning aerial spraying as an agricultural practice in all agricultural activities by agricultural entities in Davao City.
The ordinance took effect on March 23, 2007 after the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte, who was then the city mayor.
Mahipus told reporters that they have not received an official copy of the ruling from the SC yet, but they are planning to revisit the ordinance and convert it to a regulatory ordinance rather than prohibitory.
“Our anti-spraying ordinance wants to ban aerial spray, but we cannot ban something which is not inherently illegal,” he said.
Mahipus was among those who approved the ordinance in 2007, but he said that he made a manifestation at that time that “aerial spraying per se is not inherently illegal.”
The councilor said that if the ordinance will be changed into regulatory then they can regulate the aerial spraying through scheduling.
“They cannot do it 24/7, or whenever they wish. For me, we should take care of the health and safety of the people,” he said.
He said that the aerial spraying schedule should be clear by giving notice to the public especially those who will be affected by the activity.
“Before they do aerial spraying, they should give notice to the public so that they can avoid the effects of the chemicals from the aerial spray,” he said.
Mahipus said they can require a siren or a big signage to alert the public that the company will conduct aerial spraying which they can avoid.
However, Mary Ann Fuertes, executive director of Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) said that their group would still push for the banning of aerial spray.
She said the regulation of aerial spray will be difficult.
“It cannot be regulated, and it is hard to regulate because who will check on that? The (Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority) only has two personnel in the whole region, so it will be very difficult,” she said.
The FPA is an agency under the Department of Agriculture that protects the public from risks inherent in pesticides and educate the agricultural sector on the proper use of these inputs.
Fuertes said that if they will receive an official copy of the SC ruling, they will immediately file a motion of reconsideration.
The ordinance was questioned in court by banana plantation group Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Associaion (PBGEA).
The ordinance prohibits aerial spraying of fungicides in 1,800 hectares out of the total 5,000 hectares of banana plantations in Davao City. (davaotoday.com)