Monday, September 24, 2007

Court Upholds Aerial Spray Ban in Banana Plantations!

The local and national papers today reported that the Judge Renato Fuentes of the Regional Trial Court ruled that the city ordinance banning against aerial spraying in the banana plantation is constitutional. The Philippine Banana Growers and Exporters Association (PGBEA)had filed a case to stop the implementation of the city ordinance. This a victory for the people of Davao, a victory for the Movement Against Aerial Spraying and for the environmental groups.

When I met Judge Fuentes after mass yesterday, I shook his hand and he had a big smile. He said, "I'm sure that you are very happy with my decision." The judge is dear friend and he knows about my community's stand on this issue. A few months ago, when the hearing started, he was surprised to see me in court together with the environmental group. When we met in church after that he asked me what I was doing in the courthouse. I told him that I had attended an inter-faith prayer service in support of the aerial spray ban and afterwards went inside the courthouse to observe the hearing. Last month, we had a special petition in all the masses on a Sunday praying that the aerial spray ban would be upheld to protect the health of the people and the environment.

My friends in the environmental group a few months ago were worried that Judge Fuentes might rule in favor of the Banana Plantation owners because he granted them a three-month temporary restraining order that prevented the immediate implementation of the city ordinance. They wanted me to exert my influence on the judge. But I told them that I wouldn't do that. The Judge already knew my stand but he had to make a ruling on the basis of the evidence and testimony in court. And yesterday, while talking with the Judge, he told me that he found the testimony of the victims of aerial spraying and the experts supporting the ban very convincing. As we parted, he told me:"you were also a light."

God bless Judge Fuentes. An upright judge who could not be swayed by the powerful Banana Plantation owners. He is devout layman, who gives communion on Sundays and even on weekdays. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus.

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