October 29, 2009
Dear President Arroyo:
For many years now, families living in the surroundings of Cavendish banana plantations in Mindanao have been complaining of getting sick, their crops dying and water resources contaminated because of aerial spraying. The chemicals sprayed from airplanes used for bananas indiscriminately expose the people and the environment to poison.
Various international and local studies point to the hazards of aerial spraying of pesticides on humans and the ecosystems. This was recently proven by the technical review made by the World Health Organization on the DOH commissioned study few years ago.
We are one with all affected people of Mindanao in working for their deliverance from this immoral practice of aerial spraying that infringes upon human health and dignity. We cannot allow their suffering to go on any longer for anything that offends people, especially the least of our brothers and sisters, is an offense to God.
As Pope Benedict XV said in his encyclical Letter “Caritas in Veritate,” “the Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction.”
We commend the Department of Health (DOH) for standing by and adopting the key recommendations arising from a study prepared for the DOH by the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology and the University of the Philippines–National Poison Management and Control Center, which recommends among others the banning of aerial spraying. Once more your health department has proven to us and the whole Filipino people that indeed they are for the protection of the health of the people especially the most vulnerable.
We therefore recommend and request that her Excellency help the DOH in strengthening their appeal by issuing an executive order banning permanently aerial spraying everywhere as soon as possible. This executive order will be your very valuable legacy of governance. It will surely be remembered by the next generations as your deep expression of motherly care for them because you have protected them from dangers of incurable diseases and early death. Let us remember that we are duty bound as Christians to value life more than economic gains.
We look forward for your immediate response.
+GAUDENCIO CARDINAL B. ROSALES, DD
Archbishop of Manila
+BISHOP BERNARDINO C. CORTEZ, DD
Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
+BISHOP BRODERICK S. PABILLO, DD
Auxiliary Bishop of Manila
+BISHOP HONESTO F.ONGTIOCO, DD
Bishop of Cubao
+BISHOP DEOGRACIAS IŇIGUEZ, DD
Bishop of Kalookan
Chairman, CBCP-Public Affairs Commission
+BISHOP ANTONIO R. TOBIAS, DD
Bishop of Novaliches
+BISHOP FRANCISCO C. SAN DIEGO, DD
Bishop of Pasig
+BISHOP JESSE E. MERCADO, DD
Bishop of Parañaque