31 August 2008

Environmentalists Mourn Slaughter of Plaza Roma Trees

Quezon City. Environmentalists are up in arms over what they call 'a gruesome slaughter' of trees in Plaza Roma in front of the historic Manila Cathedral.

Members of the EcoWaste Coalition were deeply shocked to learn that many of the stunning trees that used to enhance the splendid beauty of the majestic edifice are now either maimed or completely gone.

“We mourn the gory slaughter of the Plaza Roma trees, a dastardly act ironically committed against the ill-fated trees barely a week before the Christian churches mark the Creation Month in September to celebrate the gifts of nature and our connectivity with Mother Earth,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

Information gathered by the ecology group from the representatives of Barangay 655, Zone 69 in Manila showed that a total of 29 trees were cut in violation of the cutting and balling permit issued on August 5 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – National Capital Region (DENR-NCR) to the Intramuros Administration (IA).

Among the luckless trees that perished in the “chainsaw massacre” were healthy narra, mahogany, mango, neem, fire and Indian trees. The famed narra, our national tree, is not only known for its ecological and aesthetic values, but also for its marvelous healing properties.

Kagawad Jurry Borbon who was at Plaza Roma during the chance visit of the EcoWaste Coalition complained that no coordination was made with the office of Barangay Chairman Pedrito Yacub, Sr. when the trees were cut on August 25.

Following the inspection conducted by government personnel last August 27, the DENR-NCR through Ms. Corazon Davis, regional executive director, issued a Notice of Violation on August 28 to IA Administrator Maria Ana Harper and gave her seven days upon receipt of the notice to show cause as to why charges should not be filed against her for breaking Presidential Decree 953.

Issued by then President Ferdinand Marcos in 1976, P.D. 953 penalizes any person who cuts, destroys, damages or injures naturally growing or planted trees, flowering or ornamental plants and shrubs and other plants of scenic, aesthetic and ecological values.

The four conditions purportedly violated by the IA include the illegal cutting of trees, the non-balling of trees to be transferred, the non-posting of the permit at the Barangay Hall and the deliberate failure to inform the DENR-NCR of the actual schedule of the planned cutting and balling for supervision and monitoring purposes.

Forester Rolando Laroya led the DENR-NCR team that seized a truckload of the felled trees from Plaza Roma last August 28, which will remain in the government custody pending investigation and resolution of the case.

The EcoWaste Coalition sought a reaction from Ms. Harper who explained over the phone that what they planned for was to transfer some of the trees to pave the way for the re-landscaping of Plaza Roma. She denied giving any personal order to cut the trees, which was supposedly given by one of her staff to the private contractor. “However, I can’t say it’s not my fault due to command responsibility,” Ms. Harper said.

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

30 August 2008

Church, EcoWaste Coalition Plea for Peace in War-Torn Mindanao

Quezon City. A Catholic Church leader and an environmental coalition have jointly appealed for peace in Mindanao as Muslims commence on September 1 the blessed month of Ramadan and as Christians mark the “Creation Month.”

“September 1 is a propitious day to declare a ceasefire, stop the cycle of violence and resume the stalled peace process in Mindanao,” said Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, Jr. who also chairs the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

“The first day of Ramadan, the most venerated month in the Islamic calendar falls on September 1, which is also the beginning of the Creation Month that is celebrated by Christians from various denominations to remind the faithful about our shared responsibility to care for the earth,” Bishop Iñiguez explained.

Environmentalist Roy Alvarez, EcoWaste Coalition’s Vice-President, echoed the church leader’s hope for peaceful settlement of the raging conflict in Mindanao as the group warned against the harmful impact of violence to frontline communities and their environment.

“We urge all parties involved to return to the negotiating table and reject all forms of violence that only lead to community devastation and carnage. For the benefit of the people and the environment, please agree and move to silence the guns,” Alvarez said.

The EcoWaste Coalition lamented that the country’s environment is already in a sorry state and that the military conflict is only aggravating the situation, saying that the “bullets, grenades, improvised explosive devices and other war tools destroy wildlife, disturb native habitats and poison the air, water and soil with toxic chemicals.”

Amid the spate of violence in Mindanao, Bishop Iñiguez and the EcoWaste Coalition recalled the United Nations statement on environment and development, popularly known as the 1992 Rio Declaration, which says that “warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development” and that “peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible.”

Bishop Iñiguez and the EcoWaste Coalition deplored the huge amount of resources being wasted in the escalating conflict by government and non-government forces, which could otherwise be directed to meet the basic needs of the rural and urban poor, including ensuring the people’s access to primary health care, humane housing, sustainable jobs and to a healthy and safe environment.

“It is our hope that all forces on both sides of the fence will rise to the occasion, respect the Ramadan and the Creation Month, silence their guns and resume the elusive search for just and lasting peace in Mindanao,” Bishop Iñiguez and the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

Last August 27, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo exhorted the faithful to offer a prayer for peace in the violence-rocked region “in solidarity with the Mindanao Bishops as well as the thousands of innocent people who are forced to evacuate and live in uncertainty and fear because of the current crisis and war.”

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

29 August 2008

EcoWaste Coalition Lauds Greenpeace for Closing Polluting Dump by Laguna Lake

Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition today lauded the Greenpeace water patrol for doing what the national and local authorities have shabbily failed to do: shut down a notorious open dump that is polluting the Laguna de Bay.

“By their action today, Greenpeace underscored the sanctity of the people’s right to live in a healthy environment and to do what is morally just to protect the Laguna de Bay from further deterioration due to unchecked dumping,” Romy Hidalgo, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition and coordinator of the group’s Task Force on Dumps and Landfills.

“Sovereignty resides in the people. Our laws, yes, including our Constitution, empower our people to enforce their rights for a healthful and safe environment, when the same is violated by individuals, companies and, more importantly, by public officials,” Atty. Amang Mejia, volunteer
lawyer of the EcoWaste Coalition, added.

“We laud the non-violent direct action by Greenpeace water patrol against the infamous Angono dump, an illegal garbage disposal site by the lakeside, to put in force the provisions of Republic Act 9003 and Republic Act 9275 that forbid dumping to protect the public health and the environment,” the waste and pollution watchdog said in a statement following news about the closure of the dump.

The Angono dump, the EcoWaste Coalition noted, continues to operate in unashamed disregard of two major environmental legislation on waste and water.

R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 strictly bans all forms of open dumping, especially in flood-prone and environmentally-critical areas. The fine of P500,000 shall be imposed, upon conviction, for persons and entities operating open dumps.

R.A. 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004, on the other hand, prohibits dumping into water bodies or along the margins of any surface water, which could result to water pollution or block the natural flow of water. This law sets the penalty between P10,000 to P200,000 for every day of violation.

It will be recalled that Greenpeace on April 21 this year put up a signpost at the Angono dump that says “Our Trash, Our Water. Protect Our Water Sources,” drawing massive local as well as international awareness about the illegal dumping on Earth Day (April 22).

Following the embarrassing exposure of lakeside dumping, Angono Mayor Aurora Villamayor met with the representatives of the EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace and the Green Angono Movement where she pledged to take action towards the closure of the illegal dump.

“We hope that other cities and municipalities that contribute to the contamination of the country’s largest freshwater lake, particularly those that continue to operate illegal dumps, will finally do what is right and, together with the citizens and the industries, breathe new life into the dying lake,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) in 2006 gave Angono, along with the towns of Biñan, Paete and Taytay, the “Nakasusulasok Award” for the existence of obnoxious dumps along the shores of the lake. At least 10 other municipalities in the provinces of Laguna, Rizal and Quezon host illegal dumps in blatant violation of the ban on open dumping.

According to the LLDA, “these dumpsites along the shores are ecological time bombs, which if not given priority attention will result to tragedy of immeasurable magnitude.”

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

28 August 2008


Pasay City – In a forum organized by the multi-sectoral group Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition (MJJC) entitled, "JPEPA Losers and Gainers: Constitutional and Trade Issues", two experts provided a bruising critique of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership
Agreement (JPEPA) before members of the press, civil society and Senate staff.

Constitutional, international law expert and former dean of the UP College of Law, Prof. Merlin Magallona, and former commercial attaché and former director of the Department of Trade and Industry Bureau of International Trade Relations, Ms. Edna Espos weighed the constitutional and trade issues facing the JPEPA, and gave the treaty a thumbs down, concluding that the JPEPA will make the Philippines and the Filipinos big losers to Japan.

Unconstitutionality of JPEPA

“JPEPA is an essential aspect of the Japanese relocation strategy and JPEPA’s benefits will be accruing to the Japanese subsidiaries in the Philippines,” explained Magallona.

In his analysis, Magallona dissects how the JPEPA by granting extensive national treatment principle gives away to the Japanese sacred Constitutional rights reserved for Filipinos, such as to own land in the Philippines, the right practice certain professions, operate and administer educational institutions. This essentially places Japanese nationals and their investments at parity with Filipinos.

According to Magallona, if very little preference is extended to the Filipino vis-à-vis the Japanese investors under the JPEPA, what is the value of being a Filipino in your own national economy?

On the issue of the pending exchange of notes that Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago claims will address the Constitutional issues in JPEPA, Magallona was cautious; elaborating that without the benefit of seeing the actual document it would be very difficult to come up with a definitive
analysis favorable or otherwise.

He raised concerns, however, on the impact of the notes on the JPEPA if it is executed merely between the Philippine and Japanese Executive branches, noting that the JPEPA was ratified by the Japanese Diet and is pending concurrence by the Philippine Senate. Any amendment to the agreement entered into by the Philippines with Japan should at least go through a similar process, at a minimum.

Failed Trade Objectives

“Sen. Roxas’ established two tests to gauge the success of JPEPA: first, did we achieve our negotiating objectives, and second, did we gain more than we gave up. The answer to these tests is a resounding no,” exclaimed Espos at the start of her critique on the trade value of JPEPA to the Philippines.

One of the goals for entering into JPEPA, according to Espos, is to gain market access for Philippine exports to Japan. In order to achieve this goal the Philippines under JPEPA drastically eliminated tariffs across the board, exempting only 6 tariff lines for rice and salt and negotiated on issues that it would not even do so under the World Trade Organization.

Instead of reciprocating the gesture, Japan on the other hand, excluded from the coverage of JPEPA at least 197 tariff lines, constituting mainly agricultural and marine products for which the Philippines has competitive advantage. The long list of Japanese exclusions, long-term phase out of tariffs, and deferred market negotiations under JPEPA severely restricted agricultural gains by the Philippines under JPEPA.

Espos further explained that the purported easier market access for electronics, furnitures, and automotive parts under JPEPA is not entirely true. Even without the JPEPA, these products already enter Japan duty-free; JPEPA did not change anything. Philippine garments and footwear exporters cannot take advantage of the duty-free provision under JPEPA because their raw materials do not comply with JPEPA Rules of Origin (ROO), which mandates in part that the raw materials come primarily from Japan or any of the ASEAN countries.

A crucial item that the Philippines failed to get after giving up so much was the removal of the enormous Japanese agricultural subsidy (including subsidies on fishing industry) that aversely affects millions of Filipino farmers and fisherfolks who cannot compete with subsidized products both abroad and at home.

Espos elaborated on the inequity of the JPEPA, by citing that the Philippines eliminated its fish tariffs under JPEPA, but Japan will not even commit to reduce its subsidies on its fishing vessels and will in fact even exclude fish products from the JPEPA.

“We gave up everything, and gained nothing under JPEPA. This is the sorry conclusion facing us with JPEPA,” stated Atty. Golda Benjamin, lead counsel for MJJC. “For a treaty that is so patently unconstitutional and for its failure to obtain the needed gains for Filipino farmers, fisherfolks, workers and exporters, there is only one logical, just, and moral step that the Senate can take, and that is to reject JPEPA.”

For more details, please contact Atty. Golda Benjamin, Lead Counsel Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition, mobile: 0917 314 1016 EcoWaste Coalition Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St. Quezon City, Philippines +63 2 9290376 ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

21 August 2008

“BANtay Endosulfan” Formed to Monitor Disposal of Toxic Pesticide

Quezon City. Public health and environmental justice advocates joined forces to launch a new group that will keep an eye on the disposal of endosulfan and other toxic consignments from the sunken MV Princess of the Stars.

The monitoring initiative called “BANtay Endosulfan” was launched today to mark the second month of the sinking of the ill-fated vessel at the height of typhoon “Frank” last June 21.

The EcoWaste Coalition, Cavite Green Coalition (CGC), and the Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment (Sibuyan ISLE), together with the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Greenpeace, Health Care Without Harm and Pesticide Action Network, formed the group to ensure the environmentally-sound management and disposal of the toxic cargoes.

“No community is worth killing for,” the groups asserted, paraphrasing the famous statement of martyred freedom fighter Ninoy Aquino.

“We have set up BANtay Endosulfan to ensure that the salvaged hazardous cargo will not be buried or burned in an open dump, cement kiln or incinerator. Such disposal options merely transfer the problem from one environmental medium to another. Exposing communities to toxic releases associated with these options is not a solution, said Von Hernandez, representing both GAIA and Greenpeace.

“Our participation in BANtay Endosulfan is a clear signal that we will vigorously resist any plan to incinerate the toxic shipments in Cavite, which hosts a controversial waste disposal facility that has been a target of civil society and church opposition since 2003,” Ochie Tolentino, former Carmona vice-mayor and CGC coordinator, emphasized.

“For the people of Sibuyan, it is important that the recovered toxic cargo are secured and disposed in a way that will cause no further harm to our ecosystems. We have suffered enough and we do not want other communities go through the same toxic tragedy that befell us,” Rodne Galicha of the Sibuyan ISLE stated.

Aside from the 10 metric tons of endosulfan, the group also pledged to monitor the disposal of the other hazardous materials in the capsized ship.

According to the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), MV Princess of the Stars also carried asphalts, paints, electric transformers and other agrochemicals such as Antracol WP70, Tamaron 600SL, Trap 70WP and Fuerza GR3.

The environmental groups have earlier demanded full disclosure of the comprehensive disposal plan for the toxic materials, a key action recommended by the European Union – United Nations team that surveyed the wreck site last month.

The toxic maritime disaster has attracted international attention to endosulfan, an organochlorine pesticide that is already banned in 55 countries. A global ban is being considered under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to protect the public health and the environment.

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

19 August 2008

Green Groups Seek Transparency in Endosulfan Disposal

Quezon City. Public health and environmental justice groups urged the authorities to disclose how the toxic cargo from the sunken MV Princess of the Stars will be disposed once retrieved from the sea.

The EcoWaste Coalition called for the full disclosure of the comprehensive disposal plan following the announcement from Sulpicio Lines that retrieval will finally commence on August 31.

Experts from the European Union and the United Nations who surveyed the wreck site off Sibuyan Island have earlier stressed the need for such a plan “before the start of any salvage operation.”

Together with the Cavite Green Coalition (CGC), the EcoWaste Coalition sought assurance from the government that the endosulfan and other deadly cargo to be salvaged will neither get dumped nor burned in the Philippines.

“In the interest of chemical safety and the public’s right to know, we urge the Office of the President to unveil the disposal plan and confirm that the highly toxic cargo of MV Princess of the Stars will not find its way into any landfill, cement kiln or incinerator operating in the country,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“This early, let it be known that the people of Cavite will not allow the disposal of endosulfan and other toxic waste at a private medical waste incinerator plant in Trece Martires City that supposedly obtained a clearance to burn pesticide waste,” cautioned Ochie Tolentino, Coordinator of the Cavite Green Coalition.

Barangay Aguado, where the incinerator is sited, is a potential toxic hotspot inhabited by approximately 40,000 citizens, including some 10,000 newly-relocated families from railway communities in Metro Manila, the CGC pointed out.

Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act bans waste incineration and considers emissions resulting from the processing in waste facilities of chlorinated compounds, such as endosulfan, as toxic and poisonous.

Both the CGC and the EcoWaste Coalition raised the “return to sender” option or sending the recovered endosulfan back to its Israel-based manufacturer, the Makhteshim Agan.

“We cannot bear more communities to suffer from this toxic maritime disaster, as experienced by the people of Sibuyan and other fishing communities, by serving as disposal sites for endosulfan. No community is disposable,” the two citizens’ coalitions said.

A primer on endosulfan written by Dr. Meriel Watts, Coordinator of the Pesticide Action Network in Aotearoa (New Zealand) described endosulfan as highly toxic to humans as well as to fish, birds, bees, earthworms, beneficial insects and microorganisms.

Endosulfan is a known global toxic pollutant that causes acute health impacts, persists in the environment and biomagnifies in the food chain. Many governments and groups have called for its complete ban under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, which the Senate ratified in 2004.

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

17 August 2008

Green Groups Back Graphic Picture Warnings vs Smoking

Quezon City. Advocates for a toxics-free environment throw their support behind a legislative proposal to use hard-hitting pictorial warnings versus the health hazards of tobacco addiction and of passive smoking.

Members of the EcoWaste Coalition, a proponent of Zero Waste and chemical safety, back the introduction of graphic health warnings in cigarette packs to dissuade Filipinos, especially the children and youth, from even trying to smoke.

The statement of support from the green groups follows the launch last Friday of the “Death Clock” by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (FCAP), along with the Department of Health and the Manila City Government, to raise awareness about the lethal effects of smoking.

“Visual health warnings are really necessary to make people aware of what they are getting into before adopting the habit,” Tessa Oliva of Miriam College’s Public Education and Awareness Campaign for the Environment (Miriam-PEACE) said.

Film actor Roy Alvarez of the Earth Renewal Project finds picture-based health advisory essential “para tumalab” (to effectively drive the message), saying that “we should even add information about toxins in smoke and statistics on people with lung cancer, including those who die every year because of tobacco-related illnesses.”

Celebrity environmentalist Chin-Chin Gutierrez of the group Alaga LAHAT believed that graphic picture warnings “can actually deter people, particularly the young clients, from getting addicted to tobacco.”

According to a statement released by the EcoWaste Coalition, the proposed measure is in step with the constitutional duty and moral obligation of the state to “protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”

“The bill further fills the need of consumers to be protected against hazards to health and safety and to be provided with information to facilitate sound choice and the exercise of their rights as embodied in the Consumer Act of the Philippines,” the group stressed.

“Many countries, including our neighbors Singapore and Thailand, now require graphic warning labels on cigarette packs to inform their citizens about the risk and severity of smoking-related diseases. It’s high time that we follow suit and save our people from the horror of tobacco addiction,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The other groups supporting effective pictorial warnings on both sides of cigarette packs include the Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Environmental Advocates Reaching Towards Humanity - UST, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Mother Earth Foundation, Philippine Nurses Association, Sagip Pasig Movement, Sanib Lakas ng Inang Kalikasan, Soljuspax and Zero Waste Philippines.

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

13 August 2008

NGO Leaders from 30 Countries Call for Senate Rejection of JPEPA, Warn against Chemical Trespassing via Toxic Waste Trade

Trivandrum, India; Quezon City, Philippines. Opposition against the ratification of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) has gone international with public interest groups across the globe urging the Senate not to ratify the flawed treaty.

In an open letter faxed today to the office of Senate President Manny Villar, 66 non-governmental organization (NGO) leaders from 30 countries currently gathered in Trivandrum, capital city of Kerala state, India for a global conference on chemical safety urged the senators to desist from ratifying the controversial pact.

Among the signatories were member groups of the International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) from Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America.

“We trust that the Philippine Senate will heed what the local and international civil society groups are saying and be proactive in protecting the Filipino people and the environment from chemical trespassing through toxic waste trade,” Australian lawyer Marian Lloyd-Smith, IPEN Co-Chair, said.

“As groups engaged in the global movement to cut pollution that impairs the health and wellbeing of the people and other creatures in this planet, we empathize with the steadfast stance of public health and environmental justice groups in the Philippines against JPEPA, a treaty that promotes trade in toxic waste,” the open letter reads.

“We join the Filipino people in appealing to the members of the Senate to reject JPEPA, ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, plug loopholes in waste and customs laws to stop toxic waste trade, and initiate policies, applying the principles of precaution and prevention, that will protect the people and the environment from the adverse toxic effects of chemicals,” the open letter states.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a partner group of GAIA and IPEN in the Philippines, obtained a copy of the letter to the senators, which the group warmly welcomed and circulated to the local press.

“We laud this timely support from our colleagues abroad for the trashing of the discredited JPEPA because of the treaty’s barefaced defects to stand up for the public welfare, the environment and the Constitution,” Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA said.

In their open letter, the groups reminded the senators that “the Philippines is already struggling with the wastes it generates, and with the widespread lack of information on the toxicity and environmentally-safe management of its wastes," a situation that will not be helped by ratifying JPEPA.

They explained that “the inclusion of hundreds of toxic materials and wastes for zero tariff elimination, including persistent organic pollutant (POP) wastes, nuclear wastes, ozone depleting substances and many other globally banned and controlled chemicals and substances provides unambiguous indicator that trade in toxic wastes is promoted under the pact.”

“The fact that neither Japan nor the Philippines has ratified the Basel Ban Amendment, which prohibits the export of toxic wastes from developed to developing countries for all intents and purposes, including recycling and disposal, makes us wary beyond doubt of the plausible dumping of toxic wastes, including electronic wastes, into the Philippines, turning the country's islands into convenient dumps for all types of garbage from overseas,” they emphasized.

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

12 August 2008

Lawmakers Urged to Take Action to Protect Children from Harmful Chemicals in Toys and Other Children’s Products

Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, urged lawmakers to pass a law that will prevent and reduce chemical risks to children’s health, particularly from lead, a
neurotoxin, that can severely affect a child’s brain.

The group was emboldened to ask the lawmakers to regulate chemicals in children’s environment after the US House of Representatives and the US Senate passed an all-embracing legislation, which bans lead and other harmful substances from toys and other children’s products. The bill is now awaiting White House’s approval.

“Our children are defenseless from harmful chemicals because they are not aware of the likely chemical risks around them. Children also tend to place their hands or objects like toys and child care articles into their mouths, making them more prone to chemical exposures,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“Given the known vulnerabilities of children to chemicals, we urge the 14th Congress to legislate measures towards protecting our kids from lead and other harmful substances used in toys and other children’s products that can cause adverse toxic effects,” he added.

Lead poisoning is extremely dangerous to the developing nervous systems of infants and young children and can cause mental retardation, lower IQ, behavioral problems and learning, reading and speaking disabilities, among others.

Aside from lead, the widely-commended US legislation will outlaw – either permanently or pending further research - phthalates, which are commonly found in plastic children’s products or child care articles.

The targeted phthalates include benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), diisononyl phthalate (DINP), and di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP).

The European Union in 2005 banned these phthalates after studies showed that children could absorb the toxic substances when they chew or suck on plastic toys, subsequently causing serious health problems such as damage to the kidney and liver and genital abnormalities in baby boys.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, lawmakers should also seriously view the phase out of millions of lead and phthalate-containing toys and other children’s products in the US and elsewhere and guard against probable dumping of recalled goods into the local market.

“The resale of recalled toys in developing countries like the Philippines is a serious threat to our children’s health. We cannot afford to let our children play with discounted toys loaded with toxic chemical additives and deprive them of their chance to live a healthy and happy future. We challenge our lawmakers to take action now for the sake of our children who are unprotected against harmful chemicals,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

The proposed legislative action will be in harmony with the goals of the Strategic Approach on International Chemicals Management (SAICM) that the Philippines and other countries adopted in Dubai in 2006.

SAICM, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed, recognizes the need to protect children and other highly vulnerable groups from chemical exposures as well as prevent the illegal traffic in toxic, hazardous, banned and severely restricted chemicals and chemical products and wastes.

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

04 August 2008

JPEPA spells death to environment and economy — green groups

Pasay City. Concerned civil society groups held a funeral march at the Philippine Senate last August 5 to symbolize death to the environment and economy with the ratification of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

Among the funeral cortege were members of the EcoWaste Coalition dressed in black, as well as women mourners covered in black veils. Pall bearers carried a white coffin behind which was a huge banner saying, “JPEPA: Toxic to the Environment and Economy”. The mood of the mock funeral was made even grimmer with traditional Philippine funeral music in the background, played live by a 12-man band.

The “black and green protest” by the public health and environmental justice groups serves as a sign of the continued rejection of the treaty by the different sectors in the light of the upcoming floor debates in the Senate. The sponsorship speech, expected to take place this week following circulation of the Committee Report and Senate Resolution seeking concurrence in the ratification of the JPEPA, also signals the commencement of the floor deliberations on the treaty.

“We’d like to remind the Senators that they are duty-bound to protect all aspects of Philippine life from unjust treaties like the JPEPA”, said Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, a partner of the multi-sectoral Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition (MJJC). “We should not allow Japan to take us by a noose like a cow thinking it is being led to its fodder when, in reality, it is being prepared for slaughter. The Filipino people deserve nothing less than a just and beneficial deal that honors our sovereignty and respects our Constitution”, Calonzo added.

The Coalition reiterates that the issues on toxic and nuclear waste dumping remain unresolved despite the exchange of diplomatic notes signed by the Japanese and Philippine governments. A study published by the Ban Toxics, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives and the EcoWaste Coalition slammed JPEPA for failing to protect the public health and the environment with the promotion and facilitation of trade involving a long list of toxic waste materials, including incinerator ash and numerous globally banned and restricted chemicals and substances.

Data gathered by the EcoWaste Coalition show that Japanese wastes have entered and continue to enter the country, sometimes disguised as recyclables or second hand goods.

“Majority of our Senators have expressed that they have reservations about this treaty—even they cannot deny that JPEPA is unjust, unconstitutional, and heavily biased toward Japan’s interests at the expense of Philippine sovereignty, economy, and environment. For our Senators to ratify such a treaty—with full knowledge of its terrible flaws—is beyond the limits of what is decent and right, and spells death to our dignity and aspirations as a nation,” said Beau Baconguis of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition and the MJJC.

Members of the EcoWaste Coalition, Ban Toxics, Cavite Green Coalition, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm, Malayang Tinig ng Kababaihan sa Komunidad, Mother Earth Foundation, Sagip Pasig Movement, and Zero Waste Philippines took part in the mock funeral
march and drama against JPEPA.

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