16 February 2008

Protestors Urged to Make ‘Communal Action’ Litter-Free

Quezon City. As various groups plan more street protest activities in response to the brewing corruption crisis plaguing the Arroyo administration, the EcoWaste Coalition requests organizers to take serious action to prevent unchecked littering in rallies.

The waste and pollution watchdog made the appeal following the huge citizens’ rally in Makati City last Friday,15 February 2008, that left Ayala Avenue and the nearby Paseo de Roxas filthy with garbage, as caught on television cameras.

Some thirty street sweepers had to work extra hours after the rally to rid the vicinity of assorted litter such as cigarette butts, plastic food containers, discarded leaflets, confetti and used placards.

“We honor our people’s constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and free speech as paramount and unassailable. As we exercise these hard-fought democratic rights, let us fulfill as well our responsibility to protect the environment from polluting practices. Our fight for a clean government is not detached from our daily struggle for wholesome air, untainted water and for litter-free and hygienic surroundings,” said Rei Panaligan, coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We call on all Juan and Juana de la Cruz and all concerned groups, parties and movements, regardless of their political and ideological beliefs, to be mindful of the environmental impacts of their activities, ensuring that these are litter-free at the minimum,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, reminded the eco-group, prohibits the littering, throwing or dumping of waste matters in public places such as streets, sidewalks, waterways and parks. Violators upon conviction shall be fined between P300 to P1,000 or render community service from 1 to 15 days or both.

To keep future citizens’ assemblies clean and litter-free, the EcoWaste Coalition urges the organizers to consciously include waste prevention in the action planning, ensuring that adequate number of eco-marshals are designated and that participants are constantly reminded not to drop litter and to clean up the rally site before going home.

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

15 February 2008

Atienza, Other Officials Warned for Non-Closure of DumpsTambakan ng Basura, Sobra na, Tama na, Ipasara!

Quezon City, Philippines- Environment groups and leaders of communities adversely affected by the continued operation of garbage dumpsites beyond the 2006 deadline warn the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Metro Manila Development Authority, and
local government officials of their liability under the law. The anti-dumping activists made the warning in a press conference held today.

EcoWaste Coalition members and community leaders are serving a first batch of Notices to Sue, as provided for under Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, on DENR Secretary Joselito Atienza, MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando, Rizal Governor Casimiro Ynares III, Rodriguez Mayor Pedro Cuerpo, and the mayors of the City of Manila, Quezon City, Navotas City; San Pedro, Laguna; Malolos City, City of San Jose Del Monte, Meycauayan, Marilao, Plaridel, San Miguel, San Rafael, Hagonoy, Norzagaray and Paombong in Bulacan.

Also, a Citizen Suit, likewise provided for in RA 9003 for all concerned and affected citizens to avail themselves of against violators, is also being slapped against Mayor Romeo M. Estrella of Baliuag who earlier received from the same group a Notice to Sue which has remained unacted

"It has been two years since the deadline but the DENR, MMDA, and these local government officials have continued to ignore the law. Some have even opened new dumpsites such as the 19-hectare area in Montalban just beside the 14-hectare dumpsite for the garbage of Metro Manila," said Rei Panaligan, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

RA 9003 mandates that all dumpsites should have closed on February 16, 2006 and replaced with Ecology Centers or Materials Recovery Facilities in every barangay, the EcoWaste Coalition explained in a statement.

Meanwhile, the areas and residents affected by the dumps suffer the pollution of the rivers, beside which many dumps are located; of the groundwater sources, and of the surrounding atmosphere, causing the destruction of otherwise productive areas and the spread of diseases among the human, plant and animal population.

The emission of toxic gases from the dumpsites also contributes significantly to the intensifying global warming. Some 2,500 scientists from 130 countries warned in February last year through the United Nations Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change that the world had only 10 years
to carry out drastic and dramatic measures to mitigate the irreversible trend. To date, only nine years are left to address the problem of dumpsites and other environment blights.

"We are taking action against erring public officials in view of the sad state of the environment and particularly the pressure to establish 'sanitary' landfills which would end up only as glorified dumps. We are not for landfills; we are for waste-free environment," said Panaligan.

Tambakan ng Basura, Sobra na, Tama na, Ipasara!
Salot sa Kalusugan ng Tao at Kalikasan!

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

13 February 2008

Citizens' Coalitions Urged GMA Not to Veto Debt Service Cuts in 2008 Budget

QUEZON CITY- As the Senate inquiry on the NBN-ZTE scandal sizzles, civil society groups assembled today in front of a government hospital in Quezon City to draw attention to another illegitimate debt and to oppose any presidential veto of the P25.9 billion debt service cuts in the 2008 budget.

Members of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) peaceably assembled at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) to urge the Arroyo administration to desist from vetoing the crucial cuts in debt servicing that will allow the people to enjoy the benefits of increased spending on health and other essential services.

To dramatize the need to prioritize the people’s health over unconscionable debt payments, especially of illegitimate debts, the combined force of the “green warriors” and the “debt warriors” put up hospital beds complete with volunteer patients outside the PHC and staged a mock blood transfusion to depict the life-sustaining benefits of cutting onerous debt payments.

“An executive veto of the budget cuts in debt servicing or the reported ‘calibrated spending,’ which is a de facto veto, will have insidious effects in the efficient and effective delivery of health care and other essential social services. We urge the government to prioritize the health and other basic needs of the people and put a stop to all debt payments that have not benefited the people, the economy and the environment,” said actor – environmental advocate Roy Alvarez, Vice-Chairperson, EcoWaste Coalition.

The groups found an ally in Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr. who, in a text message, said that “the debt service cuts in the 2008 budget can change and uplift the lives of millions with the realignment of funds for basic social services. I join the civil society in urging the executive branch to heed the people’s clamor for relief and release from indebtedness, particularly from tainted and illegitimate debts. The government has to make courageous decisions to correct the gross injustice, including the need to repudiate some of these debts.” Bishop Iñiguez chairs the Public Affairs Committee of the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

Both the EcoWaste Coalition and FDC are particularly opposed to the continued payment for 26 defunct medical waste incinerators in government-run hospitals that our country imported under a development package signed in 1997 by the governments of Austria and the Philippines.

The waste burners were retired in 2003 to conform to the phase out of medical waste incinerators under the Clean Air Act. The Philippines, which started to pay for the loan’s principal in 2002, will have to pay US$2 million annually until 2014 unless the debt is canceled or

The groups lamented that the controversial loan package not only resulted to a US$2 million per year debt burden, but also endangered the health of Filipinos with the release of extremely toxic pollutants such as dioxins, the most notorious byproducts of burning garbage and reportedly the most toxic chemical known to science.

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

08 February 2008

EcoWaste Coalition Sounds the Alarm Bell over Low Public Awareness of Waste Law

Quezon City. The environmental advocacy group EcoWaste Coalition expressed shock over the dismally low public awareness of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act seven years after it was signed into a law.

The Social Weather Survey commissioned by Greenpeace, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition, showed that 50% of the respondents are not aware of environmental laws passed to help prevent pollution in the country, while only 27% are aware of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“Government agencies tasked to implement R.A. 9003 must go beyond rhetoric and match their words with action,” said actor – environmental advocate Roy Alvarez of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Steering Committee.

“The low public awareness of Republic Act 9003 among the respondents is a sad indictment of how the law is poorly implemented and a clear indicator that some people are sleeping on their job," Alvarez added,

R.A. 9003, enacted by both houses of the Congress in December 2000 and signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on January 26, 2001, provides for a comprehensive and ecological approach for managing discards mainly through combined waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, reuse, recycling and composting.

The same survey disclosed that 40% of the respondents believe that environmental laws are "rarely enforced," 29 % "occasionally enforced," 15% "often enforced" and 8% "almost always enforced."

"The survey results only reinforce what we have been saying all along: the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) has miserably failed in effectively discharging its role under R.A. 9003 and has to be revamped," Alvarez said.

The multi-agency NSWMC, which is under the Office of the President, is tasked to oversee the implementation of ecological solid waste management plans and to prescribe policies to achieve the objectives of the law.

The survey results should cause the NSWMC, headed by Environment Secretary Joselito Atienza, to move and properly enforce the law, which was fast tracked in response to the tragic garbageslide that befell residents living next to the infamous Payatas dump in Quezon City on July 10, 2000.

According to the website of the Social Weather Station (SWS), the survey was conducted using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults from Mindanao, Visayas, Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon from November 30 to December 3, 2007. Greenpeace released the survey results in a press conference on January 25, 2008.

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

05 February 2008

Green Group Says “Let Our Red Hearts Turn Green”

Quezon City. As Filipino romantics get set for their Valentine gimmicks, an environmental advocacy group called attention to the Pinoy´s growing appetite for disposables as a scourge on the environment and the climate.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a group espousing ecological and climate-friendly lifestyle changes, warned that society´s addiction to everything convenient, trendy and plastic is causing a tremendous stress on our diminishing natural resources and desecrating the environment.

"We find our romance with disposable things very alarming. The high demand for disposable items is eating up too much of our country's store of raw materials and fossil fuels. At the same time, too many toxins are produced and too much waste is created in the production, consumption and disposal of these throw-away products," said Gigie Cruz of the EcoWaste Coalition´s Task Force on Plastics.

"Let's fall out of love for single-use disposables. A firm decision to demand for and use reusable stuff will have a positive impact on environmental health, especially in conserving resources, reducing wastes and cooling the planet," added Cruz.

The EcoWaste Coalition is alarmed that disposable cups, straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates, bowls, napkins, placemats, take out containers and bags have grown to be regular fixtures of our increasingly throw-away culture.

"They have become so popular that we tend to take no notice of their health and environmental costs," observed the EcoWaste Coalition.

Plastic disposables, the group pointed out, consume large quantities of petroleum, a non-renewable and climate polluting resource. They are not readily biodegradable and are often dumped into the surroundings as litter, clogging the waterways, choking marine animals and causing flashfloods. If burned, they release toxic pollutants such as dioxins, the most notorious man-made chemical poison known to science.

As we celebrate Valentine´s Day, the EcoWaste Coalition calls on all Filipino consumers to break free from our obvious addiction to disposables by choosing eco-friendly alternatives, including washable handkerchiefs in lieu of facial tissues, refillable mugs instead of foam, plastic or paper cups, durable tableware as opposed to plastic cutlery, and bayong (native bag made of plant materials) and other reusable carry bags rather than plastic grocery bags.

"It is our hope that more and more Filipinos will become lovers of Mother Earth and join the growing league of people around the globe that is saying no to plastic bags and other disposables. Let our red hearts turn green as we opt for eco-friendly alternatives," the EcoWaste Coalition

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

01 February 2008

Green Groups Laud Sen. Villar’s Plan to Reject JPEPA over Toxic Waste Provisions

Quezon City- Environmental groups welcomed the position of Senate President Manny Villar to reject the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) over the
inclusion of toxic wastes in the mega-treaty.

“We are heartened by Sen. Villar's public commitment that he won't vote for the ratification of the JPEPA because of its toxic waste trade provisions. He is right in pointing out that there is no reason at all for these objectionable conditions to be in the treaty, if indeed Japan does not intend to dump their waste on us and the country won't allow their importation, as both the Japanese and Philippine governments claim,” said Marie Marciano, President, Mother Earth Foundation, a member of the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition.

“The spectre of becoming the ‘toxic waste bin’ of Asia should be enough to wake up all right-minded senators from the stupor induced by the ‘let's not miss the boat’ song. If they would only do their homework and take a real look at this boat, they will without a doubt realize that it's headed towards an environmental and economic nightmare for the country and our people,” Marciano emphasized.

“Sen. Villar once said that ‘the Senate’s vote on the treaty will be based on the larger national interest.’ With the failure of the pro-JPEPA lobbyists to defend the benefits of JPEPA to our economy, environment and people, we expect Sen. Villar to keep his word and lead the Senate in upholding the national interest by junking JPEPA,” added Manny Calonzo, Secretary, EcoWaste Coalition.

On the issue of side agreement on toxic waste trade, Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, commented that “any side agreement on toxic waste trade will not work because neither Japan nor the Philippines has ratified the Basel Ban Amendment,” which prohibits the export of toxic wastes for disposal or recycling from rich to poor countries.

“We urge the Senate to work for and prioritize the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment as this will give our country added protection from the trade in toxic wastes disguised as recyclables that is currently allowed in the Basel Convention on hazardous wastes and in R.A. 6969,” Baconguis stated.

R.A. 6969 prohibits the entry, even in transit, of hazardous and nuclear wastes and their disposal into the Philippines.

The Basel Action Network, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the EcoWaste Coalition, in a briefing paper given to Senators, warned that JPEPA establishes a robust incentive for waste merchants with the elimination of tariffs on a long list of toxic wastes, including globally controlled and banned substances.

“The Philippines is already struggling with the wastes it generates, and with widespread lack of information on the toxicity and environmentally safe management of its wastes,” observed the groups.

JPEPA, which has been waiting for Senate’s approval, has drawn the ire of environmental advocates in the Philippines and abroad for promoting and facilitating toxic waste dumping in the guise of free trade.

The detailed schedule of tradable wastes under JPEPA includes municipal waste, healthcare waste, ozone depleting substances, waste oils containing cancer-causing PCBs, incinerator ash and other extremely toxic compounds.

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