CA justice: SC was wrong in Davao aerial spraying ban ruling

Katerina Francisco
CA justice: SC was wrong in Davao aerial spraying ban ruling
CA associate justice Romulo Borja is the lone dissenting justice in the 2009 CA decision that declared unconstitutional a Davao City ordinance banning aerial spraying

MANILA, Philippines – Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Romulo Borja said the Supreme Court (SC) was wrong when it upheld a 2009 appellate court decision declaring unconstitutional an ordinance in Davao City which banned aerial spraying.

Borja made the statement in response to a question posed by Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) member Jose Mejia during the public interview on Thursday, November 17, for the post of SC associate justice replacing Associate Justice Arturo Brion who is retiring on December 29. (READ: EXPLAINER: How the Judicial and Bar Council works)

Borja was asked for comment on the SC ruling that affirmed the 2009 CA decision where Borja had been the lone justice who dissented.

The case stemmed from a 2007 Davao City ordinance banning aerial spraying as an agricultural practice, which was challenged by Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association Incorporated. 

A regional trial court (RTC) declared the ordinance valid and constitutional, but the CA later reversed the RTC decision, with Borja dissenting.

“I felt I made a strong case for the affirmation of the trial court’s ruling that the ordinance banning aerial spraying was constitutionally valid. I think the Supreme Court was wrong,” he told the JBC.

Borja also said that aerial spraying posed a grave health risk.

“The SC applied legal formalism. The law was overbroad in that it did not distinguish harmful from non-harmful insecticides,” he added.

In its August 2016 ruling, the SC said the assailed ordinance violates the due process clause and the equal protection clause. The High Court also said that the city disregarded regulations implemented by the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA), including its identification and classification of safe pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.

Borja was the 1st candidate to be interviewed by the JBC on Thursday, November 17, for the post of retiring SC Associate Justice Arturo Brion.

Borja took up law at Xavier University, graduating in 1984 with honors and placing 19th in the bar exams. He has also taught at the law school since 1985, and had been a partner at the Borja Quimpo and Dela Serna Law Office.

Borja was also a member of various legal associations, including the Philippine Association of Law Schools, which he chaired from 2001 to 2002.

According to his profile on the CA page, Borja was also chairman of the board of Iligan Light & Power Inc, the franchise holder for electric power distribution in Iligan City. He was also corporate secretary of Southern Cablevision Inc, which serves Iligan City and neighboring municipalities in Misamis Oriental. – 

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