14 December 2007

Bishop, NGO Plead for a Greener and Simpler Christmas


QUEZON CITY, Philippines. As Christendom welcomes the season of Advent, a clarion call is sounded by a church leader and an environmental advocacy group urging the Filipino faithful to hew closer to the essence and simplicity of the first Christmas and, as real stewards of God’s creation, lead the way in “greening” the coming festivities.

Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiquez, Jr., Chairman, Permanent Committee on Public Affairs of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, joined the EcoWaste Coalition in appealing to every Juan or Juana de la Cruz to refuse crass consumerism and rejoice in a simple and ecological celebration of Christmas.

Originally a joyous celebration of the Redeemer’s birth in the simplicity and poverty of a manger, Christmas - observed the EcoWaste Coalition - has transformed into a pageant of unbridled consumerism and has become the most wasteful and most energy-consuming festivity in the Christian calendar.

"Following the example of the Babe in the Manger, Christmas should be a time of strengthening His light within us so that we can give, receive and spread the real gifts of Christmas -- hope, love, charity, peace and joy," Bishop Iñiquez said. "We pray that we will have more of this inner
radiance and less of the store-bought glitter and pomp that quickly fade away at the end of the season," he added.

LJ Pasion, a youth campaigner from the EcoWaste Coalition, said: “Let us all pay attention to the ecological and health costs of the choices we make this Christmastime. Any action we take to prevent waste and pollution as we rejoice in the birth of the Redeemer will go a long way in
conserving our depleted resources and in curbing climate change.”

The EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that over-the-top decorations, marketing gimmicks, shopping extravaganzas, and the ubiquitous trash created by the holiday frenzy have increasingly shrouded the true meaning of Christmas.

Unknown to many, the highly commercialized observance of Christmas and other popular festivities aggravates the country’s environmental and health problems. Unfettered consumption eats up huge quantities of raw materials and energy, and generates all types of wastes and pollutants, including greenhouse gas emissions that cause our planet to heat up.

Also, such thoughtless celebrations predictably produce tons upon tons of holiday trash. Metro Manila’s trash generation of about 8,000 cubic meters daily is expected to go up by one-third during the Christmas season due to the consumption spree. Household bins will brim over with mixed discards, while stinking “guerilla” dumpsites mushroom in street corners, sidewalks
and vacant lots.

Plastic bags, disposable containers, packaging materials, kitchen waste and party leftovers from the flurry of Christmas activities usually end up in poor communities where these are dumped or burned, endangering the health of residents with toxic pollution.

To guide the public, the EcoWaste Coalition released a 25-point “Eco-Advisory on Greening and Simplifying Christmas,” containing practical steps on how to prevent drowning in wastes and toxins during the joyful season.


Eco-Advisory on Greening and Simplifying Christmas

I. CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

1. Recreate the scene of Nativity using recycled materials. Let your home, school, barangay or church belen mirror the profound meaning of theRedeemer’s birth amidst the simplicity and poverty of the manger.
2. Recycle decorations from previous celebrations or create new ones from discards or from what you already have. Decorate with used materials or natural ornaments as much as possible.
3. Reuse old Christmas trees or create your own using potted plants or trees, twigs or broomsticks.
4. If you are to buy some holiday decorations, look for items that are locally made, non-toxic, reusable and require no electricity.

II. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

1. Create garlands made of recycled materials such as old cards, gift wraps and ribbons instead of Christmas lights to cut on energy use.
2. If you intend to adorn your home, workplace, barangay hall or church with holiday lights, choose safe, energy efficient and long lasting lights such as light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Only use Christmas lights and electrical ornaments approved by the Bureau of Product Standards.
3. Use your Christmas lights sparingly. Consider lighting them up only as Christmas nears and only when needed. Turn them off during daylight hours. Switch them off whenever you’re away or asleep.
4. Refrain from over garnishing your place with Christmas lights. The number of lights and the size of your electric bills have nothing to do with the true spirit of Christmas.
5. Stop competing for the cutest, brightest and longest Christmas lighting in your neighborhood. Conserve electricity and celebrate in the savings that you can share with Christmas carolers in your neighborhood.

III. CHRISTMAS PARTIES

1. Refuse to organize lavish and wasteful parties. Collectively decide in favor of more austere gatherings and give the money saved to individuals or families in need.
2. Refrain from using throw-away utensils and plastic and Styrofoam containers. Go for reusables that can be washed and reused.
3. Enforce basic ecological management of party discards: implement a convenient system for separating the biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards, reuse or recycle the biodegradables, feed the food leftovers to animals or compost them to make natural soil enhancers.
4. Choose reusable cloth napkins instead of single use paper napkins. You can make cheap cloth napkins from cheesecloth or flour bags. Simply wash and store for future use.

IV. CHRISTMAS SHOPPING

1. Reject any overspending during the holidays. Spend sensibly and avoid stress and debt from impulsive shopping.
2. Organize your Christmas shopping wisely to avoid hasty purchases and also to cut fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Walk, cycle or take the jeepney, bus or train whenever possible.
3. Bring with you a reusable carry bag, basket or bayong when you shop. Say no to plastic bags!
4. Stay away from items with too much wrapping. Think of the litter that will be created by all those plastic, paper, carton, styro peanuts and other packaging materials. Choose eco-friendly products!

IV. CHRISTMAS GIFTS

1. Give your community a special gift this Christmastime: lead or participate in a project that will benefit the poor or improve the community environment.
2. Gather unused gifts, old clothes, toys and books and donate them to a charitable institution.
3. Personalize gifts by making them yourself. Why not gift friends and family with your specialty dish, plants from your own backyard, scrapbooks, or a CD music selection. It gives the receiver the feeling that you took the time and effort to create the gift for her/him.
4. Give products or delicacies from your province. Go for fruits, vegetables, plants, sweets, condiments, decorative and functional crafts, etc.
5. Give environment-friendly gifts made of recycled materials or products or services that advocate sustainable living. Share items that will teach recycling such as handouts, primers and manuals providing recycling ideas.
6. Choose gifts that do not need to be wrapped such as potted plants, massage from blind masseurs, gift checks, concert tickets, raffle tickets etc.
7. If you need to wrap the gift, use old magazines or newspapers (especially the comics section), old bandannas, etc. You can also use craft paper and jazz it up with colored pencils.
8. Call or send e-cards to family and friends with Internet access. Create your own greeting card to give it a more personal touch or buy cards from groups with a special mission or advocacy.


For more information, please contact the EcoWaste Coalition at 02-9290376


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

05 December 2007

Protest welcomed Bohol Landfill

ALBURQUERQUE, BOHOL- More than 500 residents of Alburquerque trooped to the street to demand their new town mayor to immediately stop the construction of the multi-million pesos provincial sanitary landfill being funded by the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA).


The protesters, led by the local group Hugpong Alburanon Nagpakabana (HUGALNA), voice their opposition to Mayor Jun Ugdoracion's plan to host the Metro Bohol Cluster Sanitary Landfill, a reversal of what the politician promised during the election campaign period.


The people of Alburquerque voted for him last May election because he promised that he will reject the project. We now demand that he keep his promise and protect the people against pollution and environmental degradation,” said Florita Dumagan of HUGALNA.


The proposed Metro Bohol Cluster Sanitary Landfill will cater to municipal wastes from the towns of Alburquerque, Baclayon, Balilihan, Corella, Cortes, Dauis, Lila, Loboc, Maribojoc, Panglao and Sikatuna. The phase one of the project already cost more than P196 million.


Alburquerque is one of the smallest and poorest towns in Bohol with a population of almost 15,000. The provincial sanitary landfill will be built in Barangay Dangay, the aquifer area of the town where most of the people's water comes from.


The project initiated political debate between candidates during last May’s local election and led to the loss of the son of former Mayor and landfill proponent Efren Tungol to Ugdoracion. But a month after taking his seat, Ugdoracion renegotiated the landfill construction with PTA.


Currently, agricultural lands are being bulldozed and leveled to give way for the project.


The protesters, most of whom are residents of the host barangay, marched more than three kilometers and proceeded to the Church of Santa Monica for a special mass before they trooped to the town hall. The non-violent demonstration lasted for more than one hour and was witnessed by different non-government organizations and local media.


We are really disappointed because the local government repeatedly opens the discussion for the proposed landfill. We do not need a landfill and we can already manage through waste reduction, recycling and composting,” said Dumagan.


Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition, a public network of different groups that pushes for zero waste, supports the call of the people of Albur in opposing the multi-million pesos waste disposal facility.


“It is ridiculous that our financially deficient government which cannot even afford to give basic services to the people will spend the people’s money to finance dirty and failed technologies such as sanitary landfills,” said Romy Hidalgo of the Task Force Dumps/Landfill of the EcoWaste Coalition.


According to the Coalition, sanitary landfills are glorified dumpsites and release huge amounts of methane and other greenhouses gases that significantly contribute to the warming of the earth or climate change. Toxic leachate also accumulate in sanitary landfills and will eventually leak and contaminate ground and surface water.


Do not waste the money of the people. Strengthen first the decentralized ecological solid waste management and rechannel all the funds and focus from landfill construction to empowering the barangays to implement ecological solid waste management,” said Hidalgo.


For more details, please call Florita Dumagan at 0918-5308098 or the EcoWaste Coalition at (02) 929 0376, 0920-9062348 or ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com.


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

03 December 2007

Bishop, NGO Plead for a Greener and Simpler Christmas


Quezon City. As Christendom welcomes the season of Advent, a clarion call is sounded by a church leader and an environmental advocacy group urging the Filipino faithful to hew closer to the essence and simplicity of the first Christmas and, as real stewards of God’s creation, lead the way in “greening” the coming festivities.

Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiquez, Jr., Chairman, Permanent Committee on Public Affairs of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, joined the EcoWaste Coalition in appealing to every Juan or Juana de la Cruz to refuse crass consumerism and rejoice in a simple and ecological celebration of Christmas.

Originally a joyous celebration of the Redeemer’s birth in the simplicity and poverty of a manger, Christmas - observed the EcoWaste Coalition - has transformed into a pageant of unbridled consumerism and has become the most wasteful and most energy-consuming festivity in the Christian calendar.

"Following the example of the Babe in the Manger, Christmas should be a time of strengthening His light within us so that we can give, receive and spread the real gifts of Christmas -- hope, love, charity, peace and joy," Bishop Iñiquez said. "We pray that we will have more of this inner
radiance and less of the store-bought glitter and pomp that quickly fade away at the end of the season," he added.

LJ Pasion, a youth campaigner from the EcoWaste Coalition, said: “Let us all pay attention to the ecological and health costs of the choices we make this Christmastime. Any action we take to prevent waste and pollution as we rejoice in the birth of the Redeemer will go a long way in
conserving our depleted resources and in curbing climate change.”

The EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that over-the-top decorations, marketing gimmicks, shopping extravaganzas, and the ubiquitous trash created by the holiday frenzy have increasingly shrouded the true meaning of Christmas.

Unknown to many, the highly commercialized observance of Christmas and other popular festivities aggravates the country’s environmental and health problems. Unfettered consumption eats up huge quantities of raw materials and energy, and generates all types of wastes and pollutants, including greenhouse gas emissions that cause our planet to heat up.

Also, such thoughtless celebrations predictably produce tons upon tons of holiday trash. Metro Manila’s trash generation of about 8,000 cubic meters daily is expected to go up by one-third during the Christmas season due to the consumption spree. Household bins will brim over with mixed discards, while stinking “guerilla” dumpsites mushroom in street corners, sidewalks
and vacant lots.

Plastic bags, disposable containers, packaging materials, kitchen waste and party leftovers from the flurry of Christmas activities usually end up in poor communities where these are dumped or burned, endangering the health of residents with toxic pollution.

To guide the public, the EcoWaste Coalition released a 25-point “Eco-Advisory on Greening and Simplifying Christmas,” containing practical steps on how to prevent drowning in wastes and toxins during the joyful season.


Eco-Advisory on Greening and Simplifying Christmas

I. CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS
1. Recreate the scene of Nativity using recycled materials. Let your home, school, barangay or church belen mirror the profound meaning of the Redeemer’s birth amidst the simplicity and poverty of the manger.

2. Recycle decorations from previous celebrations or create new ones from discards or from what you already have. Decorate with used materials or natural ornaments as much as possible.

3. Reuse old Christmas trees or create your own using potted plants or trees, twigs or broomsticks.

4. If you are to buy some holiday decorations, look for items that are locally made, non-toxic, reusable and require no electricity.

II. CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
1. Create garlands made of recycled materials such as old cards, gift wraps and ribbons instead of Christmas lights to cut on energy use.

2. If you intend to adorn your home, workplace, barangay hall or church with holiday lights, choose safe, energy efficient and long lasting lights such as light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Only use Christmas lights and electrical ornaments approved by the Bureau of Product Standards.

3. Use your Christmas lights sparingly. Consider lighting them up only as Christmas nears and only when needed. Turn them off during daylight hours. Switch them off whenever you’re away or asleep.

4. Refrain from over garnishing your place with Christmas lights. The number of lights and the size of your electric bills have nothing to do with the true spirit of Christmas.

5. Stop competing for the cutest, brightest and longest Christmas lighting in your neighborhood. Conserve electricity and celebrate in the savings that you can share with Christmas carolers in your neighborhood.

III. CHRISTMAS PARTIES
1. Refuse to organize lavish and wasteful parties. Collectively decide in favor of more austere gatherings and give the money saved to individuals or families in need.

2. Refrain from using throw-away utensils and plastic and Styrofoam containers. Go for reusables that can be washed and reused.

3. Enforce basic ecological management of party discards: implement a convenient system for separating the biodegradable and non-biodegradable discards, reuse or recycle the biodegradables, feed the food leftovers to animals or compost them to make natural soil enhancers.

4. Choose reusable cloth napkins instead of single use paper napkins. You can make cheap cloth napkins from cheesecloth or flour bags. Simply wash and store for future use.

IV. CHRISTMAS SHOPPING
1. Reject any overspending during the holidays. Spend sensibly and avoid stress and debt from impulsive shopping.

2. Organize your Christmas shopping wisely to avoid hasty purchases and also to cut fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Walk, cycle or take the jeepney, bus or train whenever possible.

3. Bring with you a reusable carry bag, basket or bayong when you shop. Say no to plastic bags!

4. Stay away from items with too much wrapping. Think of the litter that will be created by all those plastic, paper, carton, styro peanuts and other packaging materials. Choose eco-friendly products!

IV. CHRISTMAS GIFTS
1. Give your community a special gift this Christmastime: lead or participate in a project that will benefit the poor or improve the community environment.

2. Gather unused gifts, old clothes, toys and books and donate them to a charitable institution.

3. Personalize gifts by making them yourself. Why not gift friends and family with your specialty dish, plants from your own backyard, scrapbooks, or a CD music selection. It gives the receiver the feeling that you took the time and effort to create the gift for her/him.

4. Give products or delicacies from your province. Go for fruits, vegetables, plants, sweets, condiments, decorative and functional crafts, etc.

5. Give environment-friendly gifts made of recycled materials or products or services that advocate sustainable living. Share items that will teach recycling such as handouts, primers and manuals providing recycling ideas.

6. Choose gifts that do not need to be wrapped such as potted plants, massage from blind masseurs, gift checks, concert tickets, raffle tickets etc.

7. If you need to wrap the gift, use old magazines or newspapers (especially the comics section), old bandannas, etc. You can also use craft paper and jazz it up with colored pencils.

8. Call or send e-cards to family and friends with Internet access. Create your own greeting card to give it a more personal touch or buy cards from groups with a special mission or advocacy.


For more information, please contact the EcoWaste Coalition at 9290376.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

28 November 2007

Citizens' Groups Join Global Action for “Zero Waste for Zero Warming”


Serve Closure Notice to DENR

for Condoning Toxic Pollution


Quezon City, Philippines. As the international community faces up to the looming climate change, public interest groups from over 30 countries across the globe are pushing for “Zero Waste for Zero Warming” as an urgent solution to cut back and combat greenhouse gas emissions from dirty waste disposal technologies.

To mark the annual Global Day of Action against Waste and Incineration, now on its sixth year, environmental health and justice groups took action to raise citizens' opposition over the reckless marketing and financing for landfills and incinerators, highlighting the fact that dirty technologies will not clear the atmosphere of climate changing emissions. Together, the groups called for global support for Zero Waste alternatives to dirty waste disposal technologies.


We ask governments and funders to cease from poisoning our communities with toxic pollutants from the obsolete practice of dumping and incinerating discards, which significantly contribute to the climate change crisis. Instead, we call for global support and action towards Zero Waste that will eliminate trash and pollution, advance sustainable systems for managing discards, conserve materials, save energy, and create green and sustainable jobs for the people,” said Gigie Cruz of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives / Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance (GAIA).


In Quezon City, some 100 community representatives and environmental activists trooped to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ main office to symbolically close it down for its gross negligence in upholding its mandate to protect public health and the environment. The protestors installed a huge signage with a mock padlock that says “DENR Closed for inaction against climate-changing pollution from toxic dumps, landfills and incinerators.”


Romy Hidalgo, representing the EcoWaste Coalition, expressed the group's support to the promotion of Zero Waste as a core strategy in preventing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saying that “waste policies, programs and funds must prioritize waste prevention, reduction, reuse, repair, recycling and composting as concrete measures to save energy and avoid greenhouse gases.”


We are serving this notice of closure to the DENR and the National Solid Waste Management Commission because of their dismal failure to stop the destructive practice of waste dumping and burning, which emits toxic pollutants that contribute to the worsening weather patterns. Our action today reflects our extreme dissatisfaction with the government’s failure to shut down the over 1,000 illegal dumps in the country and pursue best practices in ecological waste management, without dumping and incineration,” Hidalgo said.


Hidalgo reiterated the need to ban the disposal of biodegradable waste in dumps to prevent the production of methane. “Let us keep organic materials out of dumps and landfills. When biodegradable materials are left to rot in dumps, they emit methane gas that contribute to climate change. It is ridiculous to throw these materials away when they can be composted and used as completely safe and organic soil enrichers, instead of using chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides that leach and contaminate soil and groundwater,” he explained.


In the face of the climate crisis, incinerator and landfill industries, observed the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA, are aggressively peddling these end-of-pipe toxic technologies in the guise of “green energy”. By using names like Waste-to-Energy, gasification, and plasma, waste disposal companies have gained access to public money handouts and subsidies through renewable energy policies and some “green” programs encouraging the construction and expansion of expensive, pollution-ridden and climate-changing disposal projects, hampering community-based efforts to stop waste and global warming.


A European study shows that incinerators blow more carbon dioxide (CO2) out of the stack per unit of electricity generated compared to coal-fired power plants. In the U.S., landfills are the largest source of methane (CH4) – a global warming gas 23 times more powerful than CO2. Disposal technologies feed on diminishing resources that should be recycled or composted like paper, food waste, plastic, and aluminum, and are counter to efforts to reduce what is put in the trash in the first place.


Incineration further drives a negative spiral of increased energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Restrictive policies in typical incinerator contracts require a set amount of garbage. These contracts impose fees that that are a disincentive for a city to improve waste prevention strategies and recycling and composting collections.


Today’s protest at the DENR was participated in by Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance/Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm Asia, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Sagip Pasig Movement and Sanib Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan.


For more information, please contact:


GAIA: Gigie Cruz – 4364733, 0917-8250802
EcoWaste: Rei Panaligan – 9290376, 0920-9062348



EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

27 November 2007

EcoWaste Coalition Appeals for Barangay Leadership and Action vs Garbage

PHILIPPINES. As the newly elected Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials commence their term of office on 30 November 2007, a public interest waste and pollution watchdog pleaded for greater grassroots leadership and action to solve the never-ending garbage woes.

“We appeal to all duly proclaimed barangay officials of Metro Manila and the entire nation to make Zero Waste resource management the cornerstone of their program for cleaner and healthier neighborhoods,” said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, adding that the “barangay-led ecological movement to eliminating waste is our best alternative to costly and polluting waste disposal technologies that contribute to ill health and climate change.”

The EcoWaste Coalition aired this appeal in view of the uninspiring enforcement of Republic Act 9003 in most of the country’s 41,994 barangays. Also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, this law provides for a comprehensive and environment-friendly
approach to managing discards mainly through waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting.

The law empowers the local government units, especially the barangays, to proactively manage the community discards in ways that will not harm the environment. Under R.A. 9003, the barangay is tasked to develop an ecological solid waste management program, promote waste separation at source, enforce a segregated collection for biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste, and establish Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF) in every barangay or cluster of barangays.

The MRF, also known as Ecology Center, is deemed essential in systematically managing and reclaiming discards, which would otherwise end up in waterways, dumpsites or landfills and result to the formation and release of toxic leachate, greenhouse gases, persistent organic pollutants and other chemical threats to the community health and environment.

Government statistics show that only 1,714 MRFs serving 1,921 barangays have been established to date, which is so small compared with the 41,994 barangays across the archipelago. Over a thousand illegal mixed waste dumpsites exist, while “guerilla” dumps are commonly seen in street corners or vacant lots in clear violation of R.A. 9003.

“Indiscriminate littering, dumping and burning of discards are fast becoming a national culture. We need to put our acts together if we want to stop these destructive practices that blight and poison our surroundings and make a mockery of R.A. 9003,” Panaligan said.

“Effective barangay leadership and action towards Zero Waste will not only clear our neighborhoods of litter and pollution, but will also open up concrete opportunities to raise the people’s ecological awareness and responsibility as well as create employment and livelihood from the reuse, repair, recycling and composting of waste resources,” Panaligan stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition also reiterated the need for barangay leaders to recognize, integrate and partner with the informal recycling sector, including the waste pickers, as they reorganize their Ecological Solid Waste Management Boards and review their work plans.

For inquiries, please contact Rei Panaligan at 9290376 or 0920-9062348.


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

22 October 2007

Groups urged to protect, not to dump in Cavite's protected area

22 October, 2007. Quezon City, Philippines- Ecogroups call on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cancel the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) that its regional office gave to Cavite sanitary landfill to be built within Mt. Palay-palay/Mataas na Gulod National Park, the province's biggest protected area which is teeming with unique biodiversity and high endemism of wildlife.

The said sanitary landfill will be built in barangay Sapang in Ternate, Cavite and is within the protected zone of Mt. Palay-Palay, which has been declared as a protected area by virtue of Proclamation 1594 on October 1976.


Environsave Incorporated, the landfill proponent, managed to secure an ECC for the project last September 26, 2007 despite the huge opposition from the residents of Ternate, Cavite and different zero waste advocates. The said project is also being pushed by Cavite Governor Ayong Maliksi and will serve, initially, as the dumping ground of municipal wastes of the province. Five quarry sites have already been operating inside the protected area with a permit from the provincial government.


“It is irresponsible to put a hazardous facility like a sanitary landfill in an area that in the first place should be a priority for conservation. The forests of Mt. Palay-palay and Mataas na Gulod have been the major water source of thousands of generations of Caviteños and hosts some of the magnificent natural treasures of our country that we cannot find anywhere else in the world,” said Ochie Tolentino, coordinator of the public network Cavite Green Coalition (CGC).


Dressed as Rufous Hornbills, the residents and activists from the CGC and EcoWaste Coalition staged a creative protest outside of the DENR to call the department to junk the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of the project and to uphold and protect the rich biodiversity of Cavite.

“Sanitary landfills will contaminate the huge water reservoir of the Mt. Palay-palay forest that provides clean water to the people of Ternate and many parts of Cavite. Also the hazardous releases of the landfill such as leachate and toxic fumes will have a great impact in the flora and fauna of the area. This toxic facility must be stopped!” said Tolentino.


A resident of Mt. Palay-palay, the Rufous hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax), locally known as kalaw, is classified as near threatened and is listed in the red list of threatened species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


Mt. Palay-palay Natural Park also hosts at least 123 species of wildlife. Thirty one percent (31%) of these are endangered or threatened such as the Luzon Bleeding Heart, Philippine Falcon, Blue Naped Parrot, Philippine Woodland Frog etc. (1)


The area's rich biodiversity concentration also prompted the Protected Area and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the DENR to classify Mt. Palay-palay as biologically important and a conservation priority area (2).


Last October 18, more than 2,000 citizens of Ternate went to the streets to denounce the proposed sanitary landfill to be built in their town.


“We do not need to build additional landfills and spend meager public funds to finance hazardous facilities such as landfills. Our government officials should stop focusing their attention on convincing poor communities to be their dumping ground. Instead, they should concentrate their efforts on how to strengthen and assist their barangays to do ecological solid waste management as defined in our law,” said Rei Panaligan, coordinator of the Ecological Waste Coalition.


The ecogroups also declared that landfills should not be built on critical areas and cited the closure of the San Mateo Landfill in Rizal province by the Supreme Court.


In its decision in December 13, 2005, the high court en banc nullified Proclamation 635 of former President Fidel Ramos to use a portion of the Marikina Watershed as a sanitary landfill for Metro Manila. Instead, the court highlighted RA 9003 which orders the closure of dumps and landfills located within an aquifer, groundwater reservoir and watershed area.


“All existing so-called sanitary landfills here in the country violate the law by catering to mixed wastes and have become toxic generators, producing leachate that seep into the groundwater or methane gas that aggravates the climate change,” said Panaligan.



Note:

1: Mt. Palaypalay Profile: http://calabarzon.denr.gov.ph/real/PAsite/palaypalay.html


2: Phil Biodiversity Conservation Priorities- Final Report by DENR-PAWB, CIPHIL and BCP-UP CIQS.


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

09 October 2007

Groups Demand Cancellation of Toxic Debt in 2008 Budget


QUEZON CITY. Philippines- Non-governmental organizations today lined up hospital beds complete with ‘patients’ at the lobby of the House of Representatives to dramatize their call to lawmakers to strike out payments for the Liechtenstein/German-made medical waste incinerators provided by the Austrian government and to augment the health budget in the proposed 2008 National Government Budget.


The Ecological Waste Coalition of the Philippines (EcoWaste), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) said the loan, worth half a billion pesos of incinerators for 26 public hospitals to “help” in the proper disposal of medical waste was illegitimate and a waste of money. The said loan agreement was contracted in 1997 by Bank Austria and the Philippine Government coursed through the Department of Finance (DOF).


“We urge our legislators to strike out the payments for this loan project in the budget pending a thorough investigation that will eventually lead to its repudiation. We also demand the payment for this debt be allotted instead to augment the measly budget of the health sector,” FDC Secretary General Milo Tanchuling said.


“We are paying a lot of money for this debt which provided absolutely zero benefit to us except for the fact that it poses a clear danger to our environment. The project is truly a classic example of an illegitimate debt—debts claimed to us which financed ill-conceived development projects which are obviously not only on the pipeline but are detrimental to the people and environment’s interest,” Tanchuling said.


FDC said the proposed repayment for 2008 is $ 2.02 million or P 93.697 million. Interest payment next year, which is part of the budget, is $ 368.75 million while principal payment, which is an off-budget item, is $ 1,652.76 million. EcoWaste, Greenpeace, HCWH and FDC want both payments suspended.


The incinerators, which Greenpeace Southeast Asia claimed were substandard and did not meet the emission levels guaranteed by the supplier, had all been retired in 2003, when the incineration ban promulgated by the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 (CAA) took effect and when the DOH failed in its attempt to exempt them from the ban. They were part of the DOH’s project dubbed “The Austrian Project for the Establishment of Waste Disposal Facilities and Upgrading of the Medical Equipment Standard in DOH Hospitals.”


The loan that financed the purchase of the incinerators would have to be paid until 2014, with payments amounting to roughly US$ 2M per year.


Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, Chairperson of the powerful Committee on Appropriations also confirmed this contention during the formal opening of the House of Representatives’ plenary debates on the budget last week.


For his part, Ronnel Lim of Health Care Without Harm said: “As part of Austrian Official Development Assistance (ODA), the project’s purpose had the lofty goal of helping Philippine hospitals safely dispose of medical waste. But instead of helping, the ODA just exacerbated the problem. In the joint Department of Health (DOH)-World Health Organization (WHO) emission test conducted on one of the incinerators, the dioxin emission was a whopping 870 times over the limit set by the CAA. Now, we not only have a medical waste problem, we have an illegitimate debt that needs to be paid.”


“The Austrian people should call the attention of their government on this environmentally unjust loan extended as an ODA on behalf of them,” added Lim.



EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

08 October 2007

Coalition calls for junking JPEPA


MANILA. Philippines- Members of the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition called today on the senators to immediately quash the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) after the government panel defending it failed again to convince the senators for the fourth time in a series of hearings being conducted by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.


Manny Calonzo of the Eco Waste Coalition of the Philippines said that given the dismal performance of the senior government panel defending the agreement in the Senate, the proper thing to do is to reject the preferential trade agreement at the committee level and urge the whole Senate to junk it.


We fully support Senator Miriam Santiago in her suggestion to wish the JPEPA into oblivion. There is actually no more need for further hearings because the government simply cannot present solid benefits if we ratify JPEPA. We are simply prolonging the agony of the government,” said Calonzo.


According to Ronnel Lim, program officer of Health Care Without Harm, “The Executive should cut and cut cleanly, save whatever face is left of the Japanese and the Filipino negotiators and abandon the futile attempt to sell an atrociously bad agreement. Not only is the JPEPA bad for the environment with regard to waste importation, there is also no solid economic benefit that could be said to counterweight the grave damage to public health if the agreement is ratified. The health of the Filipino people should not be traded away to Japan for free.”


The Coalition also bewailed the fact that Japan gave markedly better terms to other countries in Southeast Asia. During the last hearing on the movement of natural persons, Leah Paquiz, president of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), pointed out that the Indonesian nurse is only required two years work experience while the Filipino nurse is required three years to qualify as a nursing trainee in Japan.


We are the equal of our Japanese and Indonesian peers. Why is Japan treating us as inferior? Why did our negotiators allow this to happen? The JPEPA is extremely unacceptable in its discrimination against us Filipino nurses. We are professional nurses and yet the agreement will make us mere trainees in Japan,” said Paquiz.


Reacting to the comment by Ambassador Siazon that the initial sending of nurses is just an initial experiment on the provision of the JPEPA on the movement of natural persons, Dr Paquiz said “the nurses are not guinea pigs you can send abroad to satisfy your curiosity.”



EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

27 September 2007

Environment Experts Shoot Down JPEPA

Manila, Philippines. Environment experts today continued to expose the unacceptable toxic waste trade provisions under the Japan Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) as the Senate took a closer scrutiny at the treaty's health and environmental repercussions.

The groups, which include Basel Action Network, EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, working under the banner 'Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition,' revealed Japan's on-going illegal toxic shipments throughout Asia, and reiterated how JPEPA weakens Philippine measures to prevent Japanese toxic waste from ending up in our shores by creating strong economic incentives for their trade.

In time with the Senate inquiry, over 200 protesters gathered outside the Senate gates to depict their outrage over Japan's intent to send toxic wastes to the Philippines and to call on the Senate to reject the JPEPA. The protesters erected a mock pirate ship laden with wastes carried by the toxic tsunami wave coming from Japan. Above the mock pirate vessel a banner was unfurled exclaiming 'Ahoy, Pinoys! JPEPA: Toxic to Health and Environment.'

"Japan has a record of shipping all sorts of hazardous waste to different countries in Asia. The toxic wastes Japan has been exporting are the same toxic wastes Japan insists on getting zero tariffs under JPEPA," said Atty. Richard Gutierrez of the Basel Action Network, Asia-Pacific (BAN AP), one of the environmental groups invited before the Senate. "The export data from Asia proves our point that Japan's promise not to export toxic wastes is empty, and that its real intent is to use the Japanese Economic Partnership Agreements to facilitate toxic waste colonization of the Philippines and Asia."

Atty. Gutierrez cited data from Thailand, India, China, and Hong Kong showed large amounts of toxic and other wastes were moving out of Japan and exported to these places, legally and illegally. In India, for instance, Japan exported a total of 70 end-of-life vessels---containing many cancer-causing pollutants---for disposal from the years 2003 to 2006. In 2006, Japan dumped 195 million kilograms of toxic incinerator ash to Thailand, and illegally shipped 4,000 tons of Japanese contaminated municipal waste to China. China and Hong Kong customs officials were also recently able to intercept large quantities of Japanese toxic wastes, such as contaminated municipal wastes and electronic wastes or e-waste, even though they were misdeclared as mixed scrap or plastic wastes.

According to Greenpeace, the country's current regulations against the entry of such toxic shipments are hopelessly inadequate. Toxic waste can still be shipped to our shores if they are declared recyclable, an excuse that hazardous waste traders fully exploit. Neither Japan nor the Philippines have ratified the Basel Ban Amendment, an international treaty which protects developing countries from toxic waste dumping by developed nations under the guise of recycling. Additionally, JPEPA supports radioactive waste trade which is not covered under the Basel Convention.

"Recycling hazardous waste produces equally hazardous waste residues, and Filipino workers and communities end up bearing the costs. JPEPA--which legalizes and eliminates tariffs on shipments of poisonous trash, and even dangerous radioactive waste--fully supports this atrocious practice to the detriment of the health and well-being of Filipinos. There is no sound economic reason, no plausible or credible explanation, why the entry of poisonous and radioactive waste into our shores should be something that our country should welcome," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigns Director Von Hernandez.

Meanwhile, the EcoWaste Coalition raised the lack of capacity of the Philippines to deal with its own domestic waste. Citing the dismal failure of the National Solid Waste Management Commission to shut down the 677 open dumps and 343 controlled dumps that should all have been closed and rehabilitated as required by the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, the Philippines is in no shape to take in foreign wastes.

"Hope is not a strategy. Hoping that Japan will not dump toxic waste on us will not stop them from doing so," said Marie Marciano of the EcoWaste Coalition, adding that "The Philippines needs to take concrete steps to protect itself--reject the JPEPA in its present form, and close the loopholes in its waste laws by enacting a total prohibition against toxic waste imports by immediately ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment."

For more information: http://junkjpepa.blogspot.com.


Note:
1. Additionally, a recent report prepared by BAN, EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives has raised the alert about the potential influx of CRT-based TV sets from Japan when TV systems in Japan are fully converted into HDTV digital systems in 2011. An estimated 64 million TVs with lead and other hazardous components are to become obsolete and likely to find their way to the Philippines and other countries under the guise of recyclable wastes or used goods should JPEPA be ratified.

2. The Basel Ban Amendment prohibits the export of all toxic wastes, for any reason whatsoever, either for disposal or recycling, from rich or developed countries like Japan, to poorer countries. The amendment was proposed back in 1995 in order to address the recycling loophole that has plagued the Basel Convention ever since its adoption in 1989. The Basel Ban Amendment has been ratified by almost all developed nations and is awaiting the requisite number of ratifications for it to enter into force of international law. The Philippines and Japan have not yet ratified the Amendment.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium,
Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
phone: +63 2 9290376
email: ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

10 September 2007

Civil Society Groups Train Their Eyes on the Senate

Pasay City, Philippines. Marking the anniversary of the signing of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), civil society groups from the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition (MJJC) converged today at the Philippine Senate to signify the people’s intention to keep a close eye on the hearings.

Laborers, nurses, environmental advocates and other concerned citizens carrying 13 giant papier mache eyeballs and a huge banner reading “The people are watching... Magkaisa, Junk JPEPA!” lined up at the Senate People’s Park to appeal to the Senators not to ratify the mega treaty.

The organizers explained that the eyeballs represent the yearning of the Filipino people for a robust, honest and transparent debate on multiple issues that continue to hound the controversial treaty signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Helsinki, Finland on 9 September 2006. Japan’s Diet ratified the
agreement last 6 December 2006; it is currently awaiting ratification in the Philippine Senate.

The Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition reiterated the civil society’s call to reject the treaty. “The more we study the full text of the JPEPA, the more we become convinced that the Senators should cross party lines and reject it out of hand,” said Atty. Golda Benjamin, lead counsel for the MJJC.

“We have faith in this Senate’s ability to transcend political differences and act as one to defend the interests of the Filipino people,” Benjamin added.

Foremost amongst the issues being leveled against the treaty is the lack of transparency during the negotiation process. Critics from the civil society as well as lawmakers from both houses of the Congress have slammed JPEPA for the secrecy shrouding its inception.

In 2005, civil society groups and members of the House of Representatives were forced to file a case in the Supreme Court for the JPEPA negotiators to disclose the full text of the agreement. In 2007, detained mutineer Captain Nicanor Faeldon filed graft charges before the Office of the
Ombudsman against government negotiators after finding JPEPA to be “grossly disadvantageous” to the Filipino people.

“A treaty should be negotiated with as much public participation as possible,” Atty. Benjamin stated. “The mystery surrounding the negotiation process puts the whole affair in a bad light. If the JPEPA is really all that they say it is, then the government shouldn’t be afraid of public
scrutiny. The whole process begs the question, ‘What are they hiding?’”

For more information, please contact Atty. Golda Benjamin (0917-3141016),
Marnie Dolera (0928-2113822) or log to:

http://junkjpepa.blogspot.com/


EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

02 September 2007

Groups Oppose Toxic Debt Payment

Quezon City, Philippines. As the 14th Congress gears up for the 2008 budget hearings, concerned groups restate their objection over the use of scarce public funds to pay for defunct waste incinerators in government-run hospitals.

Members of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) assembled in front of the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC) to call attention to the money the country throws away to pay for defunct medical waste burners in 26 hospitals under the Department of Health.

Volunteers clad in protective suits unfurled a “Stop Toxic Debt” banner, while others held placards asking the authorities to stop payment for what they viewed as a highly “illegitimate loan” that the government secured in 1997 to purchase the Austrian-supplied incinerators.

Is it not gut-wrenching to be paying for these toxic incinerators when we know that the Department of Health is short of funds for non-burn treatment technologies for decontaminating infectious or pathological waste that will not endanger hospital staff and host community with dioxin and other harmful emissions?” asked Manny Calonzo, Secretary, EcoWaste Coalition. “We believe that the government of Austria will understand if the Philippines will negotiate for the cancellation of the incinerator loan, so we can shift the appropriated funds for measures that will protect the public health,” Calonzo said.

“In the immediate, we call on our legislators to strike out the $2 million from the proposed 2008 budget earmarked for the payment of the said incinerators pending an independent and thorough investigation. The said money should instead be used to augment the minuscule health budget,” said Milo Tanchuling, Secretary General, FDC.

“A meticulous and comprehensive inquiry is needed not only to unravel the web of controversies surrounding the contract, but also to hold accountable those involved and more importantly to rescind this illegitimate loan,” Tanchuling stated.

On 30 July 2007, the EcoWaste Coalition, FDC, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, and Greenpeace Southeast Asia launched the “Stop Toxic Debt” campaign targeting the cancellation of payment for the dirty technology transfer.

Signed by the Department of Finance and the Bank of Austria, the total loan package originally amounts to over P503 million. With 4% percent interest per annum, the loan has to be settled in 24 semi-annual payments until 2014. The government has started paying for the loan since 2002. For 2007, a total of US$1,993,640 or about P92 million has been put aside to pay for this “toxic debt.”

Actual inspection by Greenpeace Southeast Asia revealed that the 26 incinerators “dumped” in the recipient hospitals, including the EAMC, were obsolete and exceedingly polluting despite being marketed by the technology vendor as “the most efficient, safest and comparatively cheapest.”

A follow-up investigation by the EcoWaste Coalition showed that the incinerators have been decommissioned in 2003 in compliance with the scheduled phase out under the Clean Air Act of 1999 of medical waste burners that emit toxic and poisonous fumes. After the three-year grace period, the law requires the use “state of the art, environmentally-sound and safe non-burn technologies” to process or treat infectious or pathological waste.

The EcoWaste Coalition and the FDC reiterated their call to the Government of Austria to cancel the “toxic debt,” and for the Government of the Philippines to repudiate it in the name of public health.