We are forwarding a very important signature campaign concerning a case of pesticide poisoning in Mindanao, Philippines, perpetrated by a giant banana plantation ironically owned by the country’s top Agriculture official. We would appreciate you to be part of this valuable effort to show concern and indignation. Please send to e-mail addresses posted below, in order for it to reach the attention of the appropriate officials. And then, kindly send to all your contacts.
For friends already aware of this case, there are significant developments worthy of your renewed support.
Thank you very much!
A Signature Campaign
Calling for Philippine Agriculture Sec. Luis Lorenzo
to immediately stop dangerous pesticide use by own banana plantation;
Condemning the criminalization of health and environmental advocates and journalists;
And urging the House, Senate, and concerned government agencies to conduct further studies and investigation
We strongly call upon Luis “Cito” Lorenzo Jr., Philippine Agriculture Secretary, to immediately stop dangerous pesticide use in a plantation run by his own company, Lapanday Development Corporation (LADECO), amidst persistent reports of its harmful health and environmental effects on a village in Mindanao.
We also condemn the recent arrest of a prominent health activist and five journalists for libel ensuing from the pesticide poisoning expose. We believe that this case has enormous public interest and should be free from political maneuvers by Lorenzo to criminalize its advocates and publishers.
A series of fact-finding missions held since 1997 reveals that 150 families or 700 individuals Kamukhaan, Digos, Davao del Sur are being poisoned by pesticide use in a nearby banana plantation, one of the 40 plantations owned in Mindanao by fruit exporting giant LADECO.
In an article that was published in a national newspaper last 2000, it was revealed that regular ground and aerial spraying of dangerous pesticides has caused diseases and deaths to residents of Kamukhaan since the 1980’s. It was reported that the plantation’s extensive chemical use has polluted the soil and the sea such that trees, crops, animals and fish have been depleted over the years. As a result, the livelihood of the villagers of mainly farmers and fisherfolk were ruined, forcing them to seek contractual employment in the plantation. As workers of the plantation, aside from being paid low wages, they are subjected to hazardous working conditions of having little or no protection from the chemicals being handled.
These hazardous pesticides include Paraquat, Macozeb, Maneb, Carbofuran, Glyphosate and Diazinon. They have all been severely restricted or banned in other countries. Some have been classified by the World Health Organization as “extremely hazardous,” and some by international agencies as possible human carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
The investigations into harmful impacts of pesticide use by LADECO were led by a local multi-sectoral organization and Dr. Romeo Quijano, a University of the Philippines professor and a respected member of the global health community, being the president of the global coalition Pesticide Action Network in the Philippines. Their findings have since then been corroborated by an investigative TV show, ABS-CBN’s The Correspondents, as well as a fact-finding mission launched by international scientific organizations such as the International POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) Elimination Network and national peasant groups such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
The Kamukhaan case study was also published abroad, and has received wide acceptance and support from similar advocates to move away from pesticide-dependent agriculture towards more sustainable practices.
Despite this, a P12 million libel suit filed by LADECO 3 years ago was allowed to prosper against Dr. Quijano and 5 practicing journalists behind the publication of the said article (his daughter Ilang-Ilang Quijano- reporter of Pinoy Weekly; Leti Boniol- Inquirer desk editor; Danilo Mariano- ABS-CBNnews.com editor; Carlos Conde- New York Times correspondents; and Nick Legaspi- Malaya deskperson).
Dismissed by the fiscal in 2001 as a case concerning public interest, it was revived last July 4, 2003 by the Department of Justice. By this time, Lorenzo had risen to political power as the DA chief, having been appointed to the post last November 2002.
The renewal of the case at the time of Lorenzo’s growing influence in the government is highly suspect. It also clearly reflects his conflict of interest as head of the DA’s regulatory Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority and owner of one of the country’s largest plantations utilizing agrochemicals.
In this light do we urge the appropriate committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and all other concerned government agencies, such as the Department of Health and Department of Environment and National Resources, to conduct further studies and investigation on the effects of LADECO’s pesticide use not only in Kamukhaan but in other communities in Mindanao as well; the Department of Agriculture’s ability to do so is seriously compromised.
Around the world, similar cases of pesticide use in plantations have been proven to destroy surrounding human and environmental life. Unfortunately, without resolute resistance, those who dominate authority in both business and government can easily suppress facts and escape liability. Without strong support, people like the villagers of Kamukhaan will forever live as doomed casualties of big politician-owned companies trying to repress the truth, wipe clean its name, and quietly continue with its abuses and excesses in the name of profit.
We believe in the people’s rights to protect their health and environment from agrochemicals, and in the right to air and uphold these rights.#
Please send to:
Philippine government officials of top concern (Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Agriculture Sec. Luis Lorenzo, Health Sec., Environment Sec., Senators and congressmen):
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Other government officials concerned (Other Agriculture officials, More senators and congressmen):
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LADECO and its business contacts:
Philippine government officials of top concern:
Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Fax #: 7361010
Luis P. Lorenzo Jr.
Department of Agriculture, Secretary
Fax #: 9288741 loc. 401
Jose Ma. Perez
Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, Executive Director
Fax #: 9223364
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Secretary
Fax #: 9204352/9280691
Department of Health, Secretary
Fax #: 7431786
Sen. Ramon Magsaysay
Chairperson, Comm. On Agriculture and Food
Fax #: 5526773
Sen. Robert Jaworski
Chairperson, Comm. On Environment and Natural Resources
Fax #: 5526776
Sen. Juan Flavier
Chairperson, Comm. On health
Fax #: 5226869
Rep. Carlos Padilla
House Minority Floor Leader
Fax #: 9325412
Rep. Alfredo Maranon Jr.
Chairperson. Comm. On Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries
Fax #: 9314673
Rep. Antonio Yapha
Chairperson, Comm. On Health
Fax #: 9314673
LADECO and its business contacts:
Lapanday Foods Corporation
Makati Business Club
Del Monte Pacific Limited
Del Monte Fresh Produce Company
Other Government Officials:
Cesar Drilon Jr.
Department of Agriculture, Undersecretary, Fisheries and Legislative Relations
Fax #: 9268405
Department of Agriculture, Undersecretary, Field Operations
Fax #: 9268405
Roger C. Chio
Department of Agriculture, Executive Director, Regional Field Unit X1
Fax #: (082) 2263625
Director, Bureau of Soils and Water Management
Fax #: 9204318
Members, Senate Comm. On Agriculture and Food/Environment and Natural Resources/Health:
Sen. Ramon Revilla
Fax #: 5526769
Sen. Manuel Villar
Fax #: 5226734
Sen. John Osmeña
Fax #: 5526700
Sen. Gregorio Honasan
Sen. Edgardo Angara
Fax #: 5226601
Sen. Sergio Osmeña
Fax #: 5226768
Sen. Loren Legarda
Fax #: 5517763
Sen. Vicente Sotto III
Fax #: 5515255
Sen. Francis Pangilinan
Fax #: 5226747
Sen. Loi Ejercito-Estrada
Fax #: 5226744
Sen. Panfilo Lacson
Fax #: 5226743
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel
Sen. Noli De Castro
Fax #: 5226787
Sen. Rodolfo Biazon
Fax #: 5526772
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in Aug 28th 2004