Church group backs greens


AN ENVIRONMENTAL group opposed to the aerial spraying of pesticides and chemicals has gained an important ally on its fourth day of camping outside the gates of the Court of Appeals (CA).

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Basic Ecclesial Community (CBCP-BEC) pledged its support to the group following an emotional appeal by Dutch national and former priest Arnold Van Vugt to the participants of the 2nd National Congress of the CBCP-BEC at the Chali Beach Resort Thursday.

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Mavic Hilario of the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spray (MAAS) said Van Vugt went to their camp and suggested they seek the support of the Church group. Along with some members of MAAS, Van Vugt then went to the venue where the CBCP-BEC was holding its national congress and spoke on their behalf.

“Nag-pass the hat ang mga bishops and gave what they can and sa awa ng Diyos umabot sa P38,000 ang pera,” Hilario said.

The environmental group started setting up camp outside the appellate court Monday to pressure the justices to hasten its decision on the ban on aerial spraying.

Dubbed by group members as Kalampag or Kamp Alang sa Luwas ug Makinaiyahong Pag-uma, the camp is about 50 meters away from the CA building in Barangay Puntod.

The group’s members are Davao City residents living near banana plantations where aerial spraying is widely practiced. MAAS members say the aerial spraying of pesticides and chemicals has caused of a host of illnesses to plague their communities.

Hilario said they are growing impatient with the way the CA justices are handling their case citing a Supreme Court rule that mandates lower courts to resolve main cases or petitions within six months.

Following that rule, CA should have decided on the constitutionality of the aerial spraying ban ordinance in July this year, said Lia Jasmin Esquillo, executive director of Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (Idis) a non-government organization (NGO).

While it was quick to grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a writ of preliminary injunction in favor of the banana growers, the CA seems to be “dragging” the decision of the case, Esquillo said in an earlier statement sent to Sun Star Cagayan de Oro.

The appellate court in January this year issued a writ of preliminary injunction (WPI) on the decision of the lower court upholding the validity of the ordinance.

“July 28 came and went with nary a whimper from the Court of Appeals. Despite three Motions for Urgent Resolution filed by the community interveners urging the CA to abide by the Supreme Court Resolution and to immediately resolve the case considering the grave consequences on people and environment, CA to date still has not yet decided on the case,” Esquillo said.

“This is a stark contrast to their swift granting of a temporary restraining order and WPI to plantation companies on grounds that upholding the ordinance will result to the destruction of many Cavendish bananas,” Esquillo added.

The group set up tent last Monday after making a bold statement saying they are in for a long haul. Group members then chained themselves to the gate of the CA.

“Magbe-breakfast ng rally ang mga Justices dahil kina-career na namin ito at araw-araw namin gagawin,” Hilario told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro Friday.

Hilario said the group will stage mass actions around the city on Monday to seek widespread support and to press for quicker action from the CA.

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