SC: Urban pest control not under gov’t jurisdiction

February 14, 2007, Tetch Torres INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines -- Urban pest control is not included in the jurisdiction of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA), the Supreme Court has ruled.

In a ruling of the First Division penned by Chief Justice Reynato Puno, only agricultural pesticides fall under the FPA. The high court agreed with the Court of Appeals’ July 31, 2003 decision and Jan. 8, 2004 resolution that the FPA, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, did not have jurisdiction or regulatory power over the acts and business operations of the Manila Pest Control Company (MAPECON).

“We hold that the FPA has jurisdiction only over agricultural pesticides, not over urban pest control products. ‘Pesticides’ in Presidential Decree No. 1144 refer only to those used in farming and other agricultural activities, as distinguished from pesticides used in households, business establishments, and offices in urban areas,” said the High Court.

It said that PD 1144 used the term “pesticides” always in conjunction with “fertilizers” or with the phrase “fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals/chemical inputs” or the phrase “other agricultural chemicals.”

Urban pest control or pesticide used in households, offices, hotels and other commercial establishments has nothing to do with agriculture, it said. Likewise, the Court said that PD 1144 set the parameters of the powers and duties of the FPA. The Court stressed that FPA’s purposes limited its jurisdiction to agricultural pesticides.

It also noted that FPA was created “for the purpose of assuring the agricultural sector of adequate supplies of fertilizer and pesticide at reasonable prices, rationalizing the manufacture and marketing of fertilizer, protecting the public from the risks inherent in the use of pesticides, and educating the agricultural sector in the use of these inputs.”

The case stemmed from the 1994 complaint filed before the Dumaguete regional trial court by MAPECON and its Dumaguete City branch manager Woodrow Catan. They want to stop Supreme Pest Control (SUPESCON) manager Pablo Turtal, Jr. and FPA Dumaguete Office Provincial Coordinator Vicente Lañohan from disturbing their business operations and from requiring them to obtain a license from the FPA.

MAPECON, a franchised and licensed urban pest control operated and duly accredited by the National Committee on Urban Pest Control, and Catan alleged that they had been disqualified and prohibited from participating in several private and public biddings after Turtal circulated Lañohan’s undated certificate to clients, saying that MAPECON-Dumaguete City could not engage in pest control operation sans a license to operate and that its pesticide products were not registered with the FPA.

In 2000, the RTC ruled in favor of MAPECON and Catan which was affirmed by the appeals court.

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