Duterte hits groups opposing oil palm plantations

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

DAVAO CITY - Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte hit environmental groups that are opposing his move to allow Malaysian and Thai companies to develop thousands of hectares of palm oil plantations in Paquibato District.

Duterte issued the statement on Sunday after Panalipdan Southern Mindanao expressed its concern regarding the negative effects of oil palm.

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"Magtindog kag power plant, daghan istorya. Pag abot sa brownout, sige reklamo igang. Karon ug naa na diha, hangtod karon yawyaw gihapon. Kamo'y pangita ug alternative diha. Kamo'y pangitag paraan ug unsaon pagtabang sa atong katawhan (You criticize the City Government when we allow the setting up of a power plant, but you keep on complaining when brownouts hit the city. You look for alternative programs that can help the people instead)," he said in Sunday's Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa, apparently referring to environmental groups that have been opposing the establishment of a coal-fired power plant in Binugao, Toril.

But the city mayor did not mention what environmental group he was referring to.

Duterte earlier revealed that certain corporations want to invest in oil palm plantation in Paquibato District.

But Panalipdan Southern Mindanao said that a lot of experiences, both local and international, pointed out that palm oil plantations are "not that good."

Belen Galleto, Panalipdan Southern Mindanao spokesperson, enumerated negative impacts such as “biodiversity loss, degradation of forest and watershed areas, unequal profit-sharing, poor working conditions, water pollution, and soil erosion and nutrient depletion.”

Galleto said the group fears that the farmers and indigenous people in Paquibato would end up shouldering the social and environmental costs of plantation expansion but the benefits are skewed in favor of the foreign companies like in Malaysia.

This did not sit well with Duterte.

"If you are smarter than I am, then go ahead. Kay mao ra man ni ang gi offer, mao ra pud akong gisulti. Wala naman pud lain. Fundamentally, basic kaayo na. You must accept the theory or the preposition na ang Pilipinas ang salvation ani is agricultural endeavors," he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 23, 2014.

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