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.
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