MEMBERS of the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (Maas) gives President Benigno Simeon Aquino III a failing grade.
Dagohoy Magaway, Maas president, said the failing grade reflects the dismal record of the President for not fulfilling the promises he made during his electoral campaign, especially the banning of aerial spraying in banana plantations in the country.
Magaway said it has been two years since Aquino assumed his post but until now, he has not yet handed down an Executive Order banning aerial spraying which is pending before the Supreme Court.
“We’re very disappointed because until now thousands of rural communities are continuously suffering toxic pesticide drift coming from these spraying planes, while we await the court ruling,” Magaway said.
Magaway said according to National Task Force Against Aerial Spraying (NTFAAS), a national network of support groups backing up their campaign, the Department of Health (DOH) and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) have already reaffirmed their positions on the matter so that there is no reason for Aquino to ignore their request.
Chinkie Pelino, specialist of the Interface Development Interventions (Idis) Police Advocacy, said at the executive level, Aquino tasked the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) to consolidate all government actions related to this issue.
“But during the course of the consultation-workshop, the Maas was not invited to air their stand on the matter,” Pelino said, adding that this poses a concern for Maas as their position in banning aerial spray might be set aside in favor of the banana agricultural companies.
Magaway added that their members have already witnessed the resumption of aerial spraying in agricultural districts in Calinan, where Maas does not have a strong membership base.
Magaway recalled that in 2001, they received reports of three barangays in the Third District which use aerial spray.
The Maas and Idis reiterated their call to the President to fulfill his promise and stop the dangerous practice of aerial spraying in the country.
Magaway said if Aquino wants to be known in history as a President who stuck to the straight road, he should fulfill his campaign promises to bring environmental justice to the countless Filipinos. (Ivy C. Tejano, Sunstar Davao