Editorial – Banana impasse over soon?

The November 20 public hearing conducted by the House committee on ecology is perceived to have cleared some doubts about the proposed permanent ban on aerial spraying in Mindanao’s more than 60,000 hectares of export cavendish banana farms.
While the committee members did not have a 180-degree change of heart (and mind), most of them have expressed openness to a win-win solution.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, a ban proponent, now sees the necessity of a comprehensive study on the effects of aerial spraying on the health of the people in communities around banana plantations. The study must be expensive, but we submit it is worth it since this concerns the people’s welfare.
Much earlier, the  banana industry had proposed such an honest-to-goodness study, saying it could end the dispute once and for all.
However, the protagonists in the controversy –the non-government organizations advocating the aerial spraying ban, the Department of Health which has already sided with the advocates, the banana industry, the more neutral government agencies and other stakeholders – should not forget the plight of residents of sitio Camocaan, Hagonoy, Davao del Sur who have become some sort of collateral damage in the conflict, what with the unverified claims of DOH-commissioned researchers that they are dying of diseases due to aerial spraying.
Congress should compel the DOH researchers headed by Dr. Allan Dionisio to submit the names of those they alleged to be sick so that medical assistance can be immediately extended to them. Despite, an earlier published promise, Dionisio continues to refuse to submit the list, if there is really one.
Cecilia Moran and  Lizel Bacalso, the so-called “crying ladies” and their children should likewise be examined so that their alleged affliction if any may be properly addressed.
Meanwhile, it would do well for Robert Reyes, the running priest, and the handful of  students who figured in a scuffle with the police at the gates of Malacanang Palace last Thursday to hold their horses while Congress is sorting out the problem, which is also  pending before the Supreme Court.
Reyes, being the oldest and presumed to be the wisest, should advice his wards to calm down and wait for the democratic processes to take their course. In the interregnum, Reyes and his comrades can run to Mindanao and get at the truth of aerial spraying.