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Davao court junks TRO plea of banana growers

DAVAO CITY – The regional trial court here has junked the petition of the Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA) for a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the Davao City government from implementing an ordinance banning the aerial spraying of pesticides in agricultural areas, particularly in banana plantations.

In a one-page order, Judge Renato Fuentes of RTC Branch 17 said he did not grant the PBGEA petition following the inability of RTC Executive Judge Isaac Robillo Jr. to act on it within 72 hours after it was filed, as provided for under the rules on civil procedures.

In the petition, PBGEA president Stephen Antig sought a TRO and writ of preliminary injunction against the city ordinance.

The banana industry leaders sought the legal remedy after they had failed to convince Davao City officials not to pass the ordinance last March 23.

The PBGEA deemed as oppressive the three-month transition period which the ordinance gives the banana plantations to shift from aerial spraying to boom spraying of pesticides.

The PBGEA warned of a possible collapse of the city’s banana industry due to losses which plantation owners would incur in shifting to boom spraying.

They also argued that the transition itself requires a longer period and large sums of money before they could comply with the ordinance.

City administrator Wendel Avisado said the city government would not backtrack from its position that the ordinance be fully implemented by June 23.

Avisado said the city legal office is prepared to answer in court any petition of banana growers against the ban on aerial spraying of pesticides.

The PBGEA even had sought the intercession – but to no avail – of Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap before the ordinance was enacted.

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte stood firm on his decision that the ban be carried out despite the lobbying by the banana industry leaders.

"It is the welfare and health of the people that we have to protect more than the interest of the banana growers," Duterte said.

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