Hoescht Hits Philippine Journalists and Activists With
June 22, 1993
Hoescht Philippines Inc., and Hoescht Far East
Marketing Corporation, subsidiaries of Hoescht AG (based in
Germany), have filed civil damage suits in Philippine court
against Philippine News and Features, an English-language
news syndicate that reported illnesses linked to the use of
Hoescht's agricultural insecticide Thiodan (active
ingredient endosulfan.) Hoescht has also filed charges
against Dr. Romeo Quijano, an expert witness at the Workshop
on Women and Pesticides co-sponsored by PAN Asia and the
Pacific in April of this year in Luzon, Philippines, for
"willfully, maliciously, and falsely stating that . . .
Thiodan (a Hoescht product) causes cancer." Hoescht is suing
the named parties for damages in excess of US$814,800.
Dr. Quijano was quoted as saying that studies have
proven that Thiodan causes cancer in an article titled "More
Diseases Traced to Pesticide Use" that appeared in
Philippine Daily on May 13, 1993. A pharmacologist and
professor associated with the Philippine General Hospital,
and University of the Philippines College of Medicine,
Quijano has conducted research on pesticide poisonings in
the Isabela province of northern Luzon. He is also a member
of the Pesticide Technical Advisory Committee, on whose
advice the Philippine Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority
enacted a ban of pesticides with the active ingredient
endosulfan in 1992. Hoescht successfully blocked the
Philippine government from enforcing this ban, and
endosulfan-containing pesticides such as Thiodan remain on
the market throughout the country. (See Global Pesticide
Campaigner, August 1992).
Attorneys for Hoescht have also threatened legal action
against Philippine News and Features for their recent
reporting of allegations of harassment of a farmer and
grassroots activist. Farmer Erminia Abongan, one of the
participants in the Women and Pesticides conference,
described symptoms, including skin lesions and shedding
fingernails, that she experienced for several years
following use of Brestan, an organotin fungicide and
molluscicide made by Hoescht. At a regional congress of
Philippine women farmers held in May, Abongan reiterated her
experience of chronic symptoms, which persisted for years
Brestan was withdrawn from the market in the Philippines by
government action in 1990. Abongan reported that although
she ceased using the product at this time, two years
later,"my nails were still falling off."
After presenting this testimony, Abongan says she was
contacted, questioned extensively, photographed and
videotaped by a group of men identifying themselves as
Hoescht representatives, who did not provide their names. In
press materials following these events, Abongan
characterized these three interviews as intimidating
interrogations that left her fearful of further harassment
and possible violence.
News items produced by Philippine News and Features
presented Abongan's allegations with headlines such as
"Accused of Harassment" (Sunday Chronicle, June 6, 1993) and
"Baguio Farmer Accuses Hoescht of Harassment" (Manila Times,
June 2, 1993.) Attorneys for Hoescht, in a letter to the
news service dated June 7, 1993, deny any harassment or
other wrongdoing by Hoescht and have requested a formal
retraction or rectification from the news service. In the
absence of such retraction or correction, attorneys say that
they will file charges against Philippine News and Features.
Organizations in the Philippines and elsewhere in
Southeast Asia will post an urgent action alert once local
groups have determined the most appropriate form of
international support for their cause. Concerned individuals
and groups are urged to contact the defendants and
organizations directly involved for an update on the Hoescht
lawsuits and to learn what help is being requested.
PAN Asia and the Pacific, Box 1170, 10850 Penang, Malaysia.
Phone: (604) 670271; fax: (604 ) 877445.
SIBAT, Box 375, CPO Manila, Philippines. Phone/fax: (632)
Cordillera Women's Education and Resources Centre , No. 16
Loro St. Subdivision, Baguio City, 2600, Philippines.
Phone/fax: (634) 4 25347.
Philippine News and Features, 1353 Leon Guinto Street,
Ermita, Manila, Philippines. Phone: (632) 588-003; fax:
Haribon Foundation/Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide
Philippines, attn. Ipat G. Luna, Attorney at Law, Room 802,
Richbelt Tower, Metro Manila, Philippines. Phone: (632) 772-
7180; fax: (632) 772-6357
Dr. Romeo Quijano, c/o Health Action International Network,
9 Cabanatuan Road, Philam Homes, Quezon City, Philippines.
Personal communication from PAN Asia and the Pacific; "More
Diseases Traced to Pesticide Use," Jo Calderon, Philippine
Daily, May 13, 1993; "Benguet Women Farmers Taking In Toxic
Pesticides," Anabelle Codiase, Philippine Daily, June 2,
1993; "Hoescht Sues News Agency for Pesticide Story," in
Malaya, Agriculture Section, June 8, 1991; Info Sheet, and
personal communication, Cordillera Women's Education and
Resources Centre, June 17, 1993.
The Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS) is
a pesticide-related news service posted weekly by the
Pesticide Action Network North America Regional Center
(PANNA RC). PANNA RC is located at 116 New Montgomery
Street, #810, San Francisco, CA 94105.Tel: (415) 541-
9140. Fax: (415) 541-9253. To receive a standard
information packet about the Pesticide Action Network
send a short e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org.