NGOs campaigning vs aerial spraying are illegitimate groups

January 6, 2010 11:36 pm 

By Judy G. Quiros

DAVAO CITY, Jan. 6 — Non-government organizations (NGOs) hardly campaigning against the practice of aerial spraying in banana plantations are believed to be illegitimate groups.

These concerned NGOs are not found in the list of accredited NGOs in the country based on the website of the Philippine Council for NGO Certification (www.pcnc.com.ph).

Among those NGOs which openly campaign against aerial spraying include the Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) and the Sustainable Integrated Area Development in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development.

Another group battling against the aerial spraying is Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS) which is under the IDIS structure.

Non-profit organizations, such as NGOs, should be accredited with the council because this is the basis of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for the granting of the tax exemption. The accreditation from the council will be secured in two years.

Based on the website, the council is a voluntary organization in which its function “is to certify non-profit organizations that meet established minimum criteria for financial management and accountability in the service to underprivileged Filipinos.”

Its members include the Association of Foundations, the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development, the Caucus of Development NGO Networks, the League of Corporate Foundations and the Philippine Business for Social Progress.

The revelation strengthened the position of banana growers and farmers against the said NGOs, saying that they don’t have the right to stop aerial spraying as they are illegitimate groups.

The group said the said NGOs were using their campaign against aerial spraying to get funding from international organizations that were ready to support their causes even at the expense of about 500,000 workers in the industry who would be deprived of their livelihood.

Reynante F. Bangoy, chair of the 911-Save Our Sagingan, said these groups have the agenda of “securing dollars from their supporters who happen to have ulterior motives against the banana industry” by campaigning against aerial spraying.

He also said while most of the funds for the campaign against aerial spraying came from the Netherlands, the country was also one of the sources of chemicals used in spraying since one of the biggest producers of chemicals was based there.

“These NGOs are immoral to say the least. And they are claiming that banana companies are the ones that are immoral because of aerial spraying? Have they lost their common sense?” Bangoy said.

He said that the banana industry had been complying with government regulations in relation to aerial spraying.

The banana growers and farmers suspected that the campaign was aimed at killing the industry in the country so that foreign companies will be able to corner the market, including the Japanese market where the bulk of the bananas from the Davao Region are sold.

The Pesticide Action Network (PAN), an international group advocating for the banning of chemicals despite approval by government agencies and countries around the world spearheaded the campaign against aerial spraying.

To start the campaign, Dr. Romeo Quijano of PAN came out with a story that residents of a village he called as Kamukhaan in Hagonoy, Davao del Sur were suffering from illnesses brought about by aerial spraying.

He brought one resident, Ramil Murillo of the village to New Zealand to strengthen his case against the farm practice.

He blamed aerial spraying to have caused the uncured wound of Murillo.

However medical findings declared that Murillo was suffering from the tuberculosis of the bone.

With Quijano’s report, the Department of Health sponsored a study in 2006 on Camocaan (the real name of the place), which also recommended the banning of aerial spraying.

Eventually, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III recommended the banning of aerial spraying to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Duque’s recommendation came even if the World Health Organization and the University of the Philippines-Manila questioned the result and procedure of the study. (PNA) RMA/Judy G. Quiros/lvp

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