As you know, the farmer representatives of the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS) have been in Manila for five (5) months waging a campaign to bring to the attention of the national government and the general public the need to ban aerial spraying. Up against MAAS is the billion dollar banana export industry led by the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PBGEA), which counts among its members Dole, Del Monte, Anflocor, Lapanday, Dizon, Sumifru and other multinational corporations. Also blocking the ban is the pesticide industry led by Croplife (members include Dow Agro Chemical Science, Bayer, Syngenta, etc).
Through this time, the campaign (including the local struggles since 2005), was able to push the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to support a ban position. This is significant since after over 30-years of practice in the Philippines, with little or no government intervention, now, the three key government agencies involved in the issue have spoken. The ball is now in the hands of Malacanang, to issue or direct to be issued, the order banning aerial spraying. The campaign has likewise generated broad multi-sectoral support for the issue including the church, academe, youth and other sectors.
This coming Thursday, Dec. 17, Thursday, 9:30am, there will be a very important dialogue in Malacanang with Sec. Ermita, concerned agencies, farmers and support groups and representatives of the banana industry. Attending the dialogue on the side of the ban aerial spray position are: 2 MAAS farmer reps; Atty Christian Monsod, Bishop Rick Pabillo, Bishop Deogracias Iniguez and 2 NTFAAS partners.
The industry is expected to make a last-ditch attempt to push for mere regulations on aerial spraying. Malacanang is expected to still find a way out in order accommodate their political allies.
We put out a paid ad in the Inquirer today to establish that the debate is finished, with the DOH, DA and DENR positions out and Malacanang has nothing to do but issue the order. The ad would also show the broad support for the issue. Please find attached the paid ad and please help circulate to all your contacts.
Also, please do join the MAAS farmers in the following activities:
· Prayer Vigil to End Poison Rain with Fr. Robert Reyes
Dec. 16, Wednesday, 5:00pm, Mendiola – until morning of Dec. 17 during the Malacanang dialogue
· Solidarity Mass and Gathering and fold up camp, with Campaign Partners and Support Groups (potluck po J)
Dec. 17, Thursday, 4:00pm, MAAS Camp at DA, Elliptical Road
· Send-off Mass/Prayer Session with Bishop Pabillo
Dec. 17, Thursday, 7:30pm, ASILO, UN Avenue, Manila
The farmers would go home to Mindanao morning of the 18th.
Tatay Leon, the oldest in the group at 68 year-old, said "hindi pa tapos ang laban hanggang may eroplanong nagsasaboy ng pestisidyo".
Hoping to see you.
Let's all pray for a poison rain-free Christmas for the farmers. Thank you.
LIA JASMIN M. ESQUILLO
Interface Development Interventions (IDIS)