by Ananeza Aban, Pinoy Weekly
The lives of a hundred and forty-four students of
Emelio Araneta Sr. Primary School inside the Brgy. Daliaon Plantation,
Toril in Davao City are put at risk because of constant exposure
to pesticides used by the banana plantation.
In an ocular survey held recently by a Multi-Sectoral Investigating
Team (MSIT) led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,
it was found out that the Emelio Araneta Sr. Primary School stood
in the middle of the plantation.
“There is no buffer zone from the school to the pesticide-laced
bananas which could filter any possible pollution from the plantation.
This puts the health of the children in danger,” the MSIT
The MSIT is composed of representatives of different government
agencies, non-government organizations, local government and the
academe. It was formed to respond to the complaints received by
the Watershed Management Coordinating Council (WMCC) about the
alleged chemical poisoning of the various watersheds in Davao
There are 144 students enrolled in Emelio Araneta Sr. Primary
School, according to the Daliaon Barangay Council. There are 29
incoming Grade 1 students; 30 Grade 2 students; 22 Grade 3 students;
26 Grade 4 students; 24 Grade 5 students; and 13 Grade 6 students.
“The Department of Education (DepEd) and other concerned
government agencies must immediately respond to the situation
of these children,” said Victor Cañizares, WMCC president.
In time with the opening of classes this June, Davao City Councilor
Angela Librado filed a resolution calling for the City Environment
and Natural Resources Office, DepEd, City Health Office, and Department
of Health to investigate the problem.
Emilio Araneta, one of the owners of the plantation, admitted
that they use the pesticides Vondozeb (Mancozeb), Tilt (Propicanazole),
Bankit, Lorsban (Chlorpyrifos) and Confidor (Imidacloprid). The
spraying of these agrochemicals occurs every 8 to 10 days. The
minimum interval between the last spraying and harvesting is 5
According to Dr. Romeo Quijano of the University of the Philippines
Pharmacology and Toxicology Department and president of Pesticide
Action Network Philippines, the Mancozeb fungicide is part of
the pesticide group ethylene bis-thiocarbamate (EBDC) that converts
into ethylene thiourea (ETU), a cancer-causing chemical.
ETU is also on the list of cancer-causing chemicals of the California
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and the California
Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. Because
of the presence of ETU, Mancozeb is dangerous to the thyroid of
people exposed to it.
Quijano added that Mancozeb is an endocrine disruptor based on
chronic toxicity studies that demonstrated thyroid abnormalities
and altered levels of thyroid hormones. Studies claim that, “Experimental
evidence suggests that this pesticide may cause mutations in chromosomes.
In a reproductive toxicity test, pituitary abnormalities and thyroid
and kidney problems were observed.”
Meanwhile, the chemical Imidacloprid possibly affects the water
used by households in the barangay because it allegedly seeps
into the soil and into the water system.
The Brgy. Daliaon Plantation is located inside the Talomo-Lipadas
Watershed that is only waiting to be proclaimed as an environmentally-critical
Cañizares added that Brgy. Daliaon is controversial because
it was acquired privately by a plantation, even though it was
classified as timberland and thus, a public land. The barangay
is classified as timberland based on the 1925 Land Classification
Map of the Bureau of Forestry.