Shooting the messenger
Four journalists who brought to light in 2000 the use of banned pesticides at a banana plantation in the Philippines have now been put behind bars. Also arrested is Romeo Quijano, professor at the University of the Philippines and president of the country's chapter of global group Pesticide Action Network.
Quijano's work was the basis of the scribes' stories. Lapanday Holdings Corporation (ladeco) was accused of spraying banned pesticides at its plantation in Digos, allegedly resulting in health problems, and even death, among residents of nearby Kamukhaan. Claiming defamation and misreporting of facts, ladeco filed a libel suit in 2000. The case was, however, dropped in view of the articles being in public interest. The decision of department of justice undersecretary Merceditas Guttierez to revive the case, and the subsequent arrests, are being viewed with suspicion.