30 July 2008

Eco-Group Hails Breastmilk as “Super Nature-Friendly”

Quezon City. On the occasion of the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW 2008) that will kick off on August 1 to 7, a waste and pollution watchdog makes a pitch for breastmilk as being most friendly to the environment and climate.

The EcoWaste Coalition hails breastmilk as “super nature-friendly,” destroying no natural resources, burning no fossil fuel, and emitting no greenhouse gases that poison and warm the planet.

“Compared to the manufacture of infant milk formula, the all-natural production of breastmilk in a woman’s body does not that involve huge amounts of resources and fuels and the associated wastes. It’s super nature-friendly all the way, produced and delivered to a totally satisfied baby consumer without any pollution,” Elsie Brandes-de Veyra, an official of the EcoWaste Coalition, explained.

“We therefore join the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), the Department of Health and our tireless champions in the civil society in celebrating and defending this most ecological food that has nourished and sustained humanity for ages,” De Veyra, a retired nurse, said.

A WABA paper on “Breastmilk: A World Resource” by Andrew Radford of Baby Milk Action in UK points out that breastmilk produces no waste, needs no extra packaging, is ready to use at the right temperature, and does not have to be shipped around the world. Most women do not menstruate when breastfeeding and therefore reducing the need for sanitary napkins,
tampons or cloths.

The EcoWaste Coalition is particularly concerned with the adverse impact of the production, marketing, use and disposal of commercial infant and baby foods on the world’s fast diminishing natural resources and the trash and pollution created in every phase of the trail.

“With the aggressive marketing of commercial breastmilk substitutes and with the illegal dumps bursting at the seams, we find it critical that breastfeeding, a most eco-friendly act, is promoted, protected and supported at all times and in all places,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition is likewise concerned with the presence of bisphenol A or BPA, an industrial chemical, in polycarbonate plastic feeding bottles and in the lining on infant formula cans. Scientists are worried that BPA can leach out into the milk and warned about its toxic effects to the environment and humans, especially to the newborns and infants.

WBW 2008 calls for greater support for mothers in achieving the highest standard of infant feeding: exclusive breastfeeding for six months, and providing appropriate complementary foods with continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond.

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

29 July 2008

Group Claims a Senate Vote Favoring JPEPA will be Disastrous for Filipinos

Pasay City: "A vote for JPEPA is a vote against Filipinos," was the cry of close to 300 members of the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition (MJJC), a multi-sectoral network formed in late 2006 opposing the ratification of the controversial Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), during their rally in front of the Senate today.

The activists held images of Senators in silhouettes with a question mark emblazoned where the Senators' faces ought to be. A giant streamer bearing the message "JPEPA is Anti-Filipino" served as the main backdrop for the many placards held by the demonstrators.

"At the center of this controversy really is whether JPEPA will be clearly beneficial to Filipinos," explained Atty. Golda Benjamin, MJJC lead counsel. "From the past hearings conducted by the Senate on this very issue the Government has totally failed to prove its case that this damned treaty is good for the country."

The issue of the JPEPA once again took center stage after the Supreme Court dismissed the petition filed by several party-list lawmakers and NGOs requesting Malacanang to divulge negotiation information about the much contested treaty. Last week Senate President Manuel Villar intimated the JPEPA will be one of their priorities when session resumes this week.


NO FOOD FOR FILIPINOS

"Our study shows that much of the trumpeted JPEPA gains are imaginary, but the losses are real in terms of job displacement and worsened poverty for rural people who will be driven away from their land and natural resources. The Senate cannot ignore the impacts of JPEPA to the basic food producing sectors," stated Ms. Arze Glipo of the Task Force Food Sovereignty (TFFS), a member of the MJJC.

The group further argues that the JPEPA's text allows the full entry of Japanese multinational companies in crop plantations, fishery, mining, power, etc, depriving the Filipinos the prior right and access to their land and other productive resources.


NO JOBS FOR FILIPINOS

In addition to the loss of jobs in the agricultural sector, JPEPA's is poised to axe at least 77,000 Filipino workers in the automobile industry. Even without the JPEPA, second hand vehicles are already coming in through various ports, most recently the controversy involving Port Irene in Cagayan. With JPEPA, it will open the floodgates to imported used four-wheeled motor vehicles despite the existence of Executive Order 156 that clearly prohibits the same.

"If JPEPA passes in spite of these clear threats to Filipino jobs, it will only worsen the jobless growth we have been experiencing under the Arroyo regime," exclaimed Josua Mata, Secretary General of the Alliance of Progressive Labor, another coalition partner of MJJC.

"The supremacy of Japanese interests in JPEPA, and not the interests of the Filipino people has totally eroded any shred of JPEPA's presumed political and economic ascendancy," Mata emphasized.


NO FUTURE FOR FILIPINOS

JPEPA disregards the basic contract between the government and the Filipino people. Unbiased and respected legal experts, such as retired Justice Florentino P. Feliciano have out rightly called JPEPA as unconstitutional. No less than Senator Miriam Santiago, agreed to Justice Feliciano's conclusion when she spoke to the press after the Senate hearing on the Constitutionality of JPEPA, "it (JPEPA) will be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. That is my humble opinion as a scholar of constitutional law."

As if the issue of unconstitutionality is not enough, JPEPA's threatens the Philippine environment as well, since the entry of toxic wastes, and other banned or controlled substances such as ozone depleting substances, chemicals that are attributed to climate change, persistent organic pollutants, such as the cancer causing PCBs, and nuclear wastes are facilitated, promoted, and protected under JPEPA.

The Administration attempted to plug this loophole with a side note with Japan, but according to the MJJC no amount of side notes would safeguard the interests of the Filipinos against the problems of JPEPA.

"Can the Senate remain untarnished amidst MalacaƱang manic push for this illegal and immoral treaty? How will our Senators comport themselves amidst this offensive from President Arroyo? The answers to these questions will be the bellweather of our Senate's independence, their nationalism, and if they are even worthy to be considered come 2010. We hope for all our sake they muster the needed courage to say no to GMA and to JPEPA," the MJJC stated.


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

Surviving the Crisis with Cost-Cutting Tips for the Pocket and the Planet

Quezon City. The nearly weekly oil price hikes and the consequent climb in jeepney and taxi fares as well as prices of basic food items and consumer goods prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to think up frugal ways to help consumers cope with the crisis.

Coming from different socio-economic brackets, the eco-activists and their friends listed practical belt-tightening tips that will help Filipino families make both ends meet in the midst of crippling fare and price increases while taking care of the environment.

Miss Earth Philippines 2008 winner, Karla Henry, gave the shortest but probably the most succinct tip if we want to avoid living "in the red" or falling into the debt trap during these difficult times. “The best advice,” she says, “is to minimize!”

Providing straight-thinking ideas were Miss Earth Philippines 2008 (Air) Razel Eguia, Miss Earth Philippines 2006 Cathy Untalan, Alice Raymundo of the Integrated Rural Development Foundation, Dr. Leah Sumaco-Paquiz of the Philippine Nurses Association, Fe Manapat of Womanhealth and economist Maitet Diokno-Pascual.

Also contributing their thoughts on how to live simply and sustainably were the Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Buklod Kalikasan, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Children’s Helper Project, Concerned Citizens Against Pollution, Firefly Brigade, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Hugalna-Bohol, Institute for Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Mother Earth Foundation, Sagip Pasig Movement, Sining Yapak and Zero Waste Philippines.

Here are some matter-of-fact tips to deal with the hard times:

TO REDUCE ELECTRICITY CHARGES, make it a habit to switch off lights, computers and gadgets when not in use; do not leave electronic appliances in standby mode; open the windows to let the natural light in and aerate the natural way; shift to energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps; refrain from using the elevator - use the staircase up to the fourth floor; limit the use of office airconditioners, turning them off an hour before going home; set home and office airconditioning units to a comfortable, not too cold temperature, and set water heaters to warm or tepid instead of hot; if the light is on in the dining room, switch off the one in the kitchen; organize your washing and ironing on a weekly, not daily, basis, and don’t bother ironing house clothes.

For mosquito-prone places, NGO worker Yhet Garcia suggests the use of the ever reliable electricity-free mosquito net instead of electric mosquito repellants.


TO ECONOMIZE ON WATER CONSUMPTION,
harvest rain water, store and use it for watering the plants, for washing clothes and for other household needs. Stop wasting water: fix leaking faucets and pipes; turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, shaving or washing your face; use a pail and a dip when taking a bath; wait until you’ve got a full load before using the washing machine; wash vegetables and fruits in a basin not under running water; wash the dishes all at the same time, not one at a time.

Stop throwing grey water down the drain: collect all grey water from the kitchen, bathroom and laundry and use it for flushing the toilet, washing the rugs, cleaning the pavements or for watering the lawn or garden.

Feminist Fe Manapat recommends the use of a pail and dip as substitutes for a nozzle to clean the car, or in lieu of a sprinkler to water the plants.


TO CUT GASOLINE AND TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES, choose to walk or cycle for short trips – both of which are good for the body, mind and spirit; for long trips, opt for ridesharing with your neighbors and friends or use public transport modes such as the LRT/MRT. For more efficient use of time and resources, plan your trips, combining errands into a single journey.

Use your car only when absolutely needed - drive smoothly and avoid jumpstarts to optimize gas use, and make sure that your car is well-tuned and maintained. Also, turn the motor off instead of letting it idle. Civic leader Elsie Brandes-de Veyra calls on motorists to avoid the main roads during rush hours and take the shortcuts whenever possible to save on time and gas.


TO MINIMIZE SHOPPING BILLS, stay home, minimize “malling” and avoid impulse buying. Reuse, repair and recycle first before making any new purchase. If you need to go to the public market or to the mall, prepare a budget, go with a list and stick to it, prioritizing the essentials over more dispensable stuff; go for generic items instead of the more expensive branded items, which are often of equal quality.

Watch out for the store specials or best deals, but only buy items that you truly need. Mountaineer Rey Palacio recommends buying in bulk whenever possible as this is not only cheaper, but also less wasteful in terms of reduced packaging materials.


TO STRETCH YOUR FOOD BUDGET, plan your weekly menu based on what is in season, keep your menu simple, cut back on meat and go for more green and leafy vegetables and local fruits. Say no to junk food, eat out less, cook your own food and drink plain water. Bring your own “baon” and water in reusable containers instead of buying meals and drinks at the office or
school canteen.

Home maker Ampie Doblada, for instance, prepares an adequate breakfast for her kids so she no longer gives them money for morning snacks. Whether you are eating at home or dining out, take only a “half rice” serving if that is all that you can consume.

Refrain from cooking too much rice; cook only what is needed and refrigerate any leftovers to be steamed or fried for later use. Given the rice crisis, let us not waste even a single grain of rice. To further cut on your food expense and achieve some self- sufficiency at home, try growing your own vegetables in your backyard or in improvised pots.


TO LOWER EXPENSES FOR LEISURE, HEALTH AND FITNESS, bond with your loved ones at home, avoiding unnecessary visits to the malls or out-of-town trips. Save on gym or health club fees by simply walking or cycling to school, work, church and store. Place bath soap and detergent bar into a net bag to make them last longer. Try cleaning your teeth with baking soda instead of toothpaste or, if you are as audacious as community leader Noli Abinales, try brushing your teeth with the tip of a guava twig.

With these sure-fire tips, we hope that you’ll survive the economic crisis, while conserving the fast diminishing natural resources of our nation and planet.


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

24 July 2008

Green Groups Cast Doubts on “Clean and Renewable” Landfill Gas to Energy Project

Quezon City. The EcoWaste Coalition raised serious doubts about the much-trumpeted environmental and climate benefits of the methane gas collection project in Rodriguez, Rizal that will be inaugurated today by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The waste and pollution watchdog questions the President’s endorsement of the project as a “model solution” to climate change and a “renewable energy source” as contained in the widely published one-page advertisement paid for by the Montalban Methane Power Corporation to mark the facility’s formal opening.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the best way to cut the release of methane into the atmosphere is to ban the disposal of biodegradable or organic matters in dumpsites and to enforce Zero Waste programs anchored on waste prevention, reduction, separation at source, recycling and composting. The group stressed that since methane is an offshoot of dumping, and dumping is such a destructive way to manage the society’s discards, landfill gas to energy (LFGTE) can not be deemed a renewable energy source.

“It’s a band-aid ‘solution’ that does not curb the production of methane. If the government is sincere in cutting greenhouse gas emissions from dumps, it must keep all biodegradable materials out of dumps and push for innovative Zero Waste programs nationwide,” Romy Hidalgo, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“The methane gas power plant was established as a justification for the existence of the illegal glorified Rodriguez dumpsite and will only encourage hauling of more garbage. We don’t need to spend a treasure for waste management. The people and the community can manage their own discards by using the inexpensive proven method of waste prevention, segregation, recycling and composting – the ecological way of managing wastes,” Joey Papa, President of the Bangon Kalikasan Movement stated

“The LFGTE technology feeds on a wasteful pattern of disposing organic materials into the dumps instead of composting them into effective and safe soil nutrients that can help in restoring depleted farmlands while cutting farmers’ dependence on chemical farm inputs such as toxic pesticides. To put a cap to wastefulness and greenhouse gas emissions from dumps, we urge the government to embrace Zero Waste and not just rely on piecemeal measures,” added Manny Calonzo of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

Methane is a global warming gas that has 23 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. In the US, landfills are largest sources of methane emissions, with those from municipal waste landfills comprising 94% of total landfill emissions, while industrial landfills made up the rest.

The EcoWaste Coalition explained that LFGTE systems do not necessarily prevent substantial discharge of methane due to inbuilt inefficiencies in the systems to capture all the methane produced.

The group cited a paper by a US-based Zero Waste advocate Peter Anderson saying that “LFGTE is a non-productive approach that fails to overcome the fact that, especially in a world concerned with climate change, land disposal alone – of all the other options to manage discards – creates the enormous volumes of methane that are among the most significant contributors to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions."

“The promise of electricity from the methane gas collection should not deceive communities already serving as garbage dumpsites or those being eyed as new dumpsites. With the push for the so-called ‘energy from waste,’ we see no end to dumping since there is now a purported use for landfills. This will not encourage our society to aim and work for Zero Waste," the EcoWaste Coalition said.

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

21 July 2008

Flashfloods expose filthy habit that has to go

Quezon City. The flashfloods that hit sections of Metro Manila last Wednesday has exposed an ugly habit that has become a way of life for some people: garbage dumping.

After the intense rainfall, parts of the metropolis, particularly Blumentritt St., Piy Margal St. and Rizal Ave. in Sta. Cruz, Manila, Barangay Sto. Domingo in Quezon City and other low-lying areas were submerged in floodwaters for several hours.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, noted that the callous practice of some citizens to dump their discards wherever they please, from pieces of tiny litter to bagful of mixed refuse, is a major cause of rapid flooding after a heavy rainfall.

“Many of our streets and communities are becoming dirty and dangerous with these illegally thrown discards that ultimately end up clogging the watercourse, disrupting the flow of rainwater, and turning low-lying areas into instant waterworld,” observed Ben Galindo, representative of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Sagip Pasig Movement.

“Some hardhearted citizens even throw their garbage in canals and creeks on purpose, unmindful that this can lead to flooding, which in turn can damage properties, spread water-borne diseases, spawn economic losses and even kill humans and animals,” Galindo added.

According to the group, the routine clearing and dredging operations are essential steps to mitigate flooding during the rainy season, but will be pointless if littering and dumping remain uncontrolled.

Reports reaching the EcoWaste Coalition reveal that many neighborhoods in the metropolis have yet to enforce and embrace the ecological way of managing discards as can be seen in littered streets and sprouting dumps in street corners.

“The ecological management of discards is a critical component in any complete flood prevention and management program,” the EcoWaste Coalition said, stressing that individual, family and community participation is the key for its success.

“We call on all barangay councils to exercise effective leadership in educating and mobilizing our people towards the environmentally-sound management of their discards for tidier, healthier and more vibrant communities,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

Considering the special needs of informal settlers, especially those living along creeks and rivers, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the authorities to ensure that constant efforts are made to inform and assist them in managing their refuse for public health and safety.

“The informal settlements are here to stay unless and until we have fully addressed the needs of our people for humane and sustainable employment, livelihood and housing. In the meantime, we urge the government to invest more in uplifting their living environments, including implementing a program on ecological waste management program that will cater to their specific conditions,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.


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

20 July 2008

Green Groups Push for Product Take-Back to Reduce Mercury Hazards

Quezon City. With the planned phase out of incandescent bulbs by 2010 and the shift towards greater use of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), environmental groups today called on the government and industry to take responsibility of finding ways to minimize and ultimately eliminate the use of mercury, a neurotoxin, in the energy- saving bulbs, and to ensure CFLs are safely managed at the end of their useful lives.

While recognizing the energy and climate saving benefits of CFLs, the Ban Toxics!, EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace Southeast Asia expressed concern that with improper handling and disposal, the mercury in CFLs, which if consumed, inhaled or incinerated, can adversely impact the brain, particularly of young children and unborn fetuses. Each CFL bulb contains from 2 to 6 milligrams of mercury.

A factsheet on mercury in CFLs published by the US Environmental Protection Authority warns that exposure to mercury can affect the brain, spinal cord, kidneys and liver, causing symptoms such as trembling hands, memory loss, and difficulty moving. Mercury is also capable of causing birth defects, and a persistent toxin capable of bio-accumulating through the food chain

"This early, we are asking the government to pay attention to the mercury in CFLs. The public need to be told not only of the energy and climate benefits of CFLs, but also about the risk involved when it is accidentally broken, improperly discarded or incinerated," Manny Calonzo, President, EcoWaste Coalition, said.

The groups observed that the six-page paid advertisements put out by the Department of Energy to launch the "SWITCH Movement" did not contain any single precaution against the mercury content of CFLs.

"The consumers need to know what should be done in case of CFL breakage, and how spent bulbs should be properly disposed of to minimize the risk of mercury contamination. There must be an explicit ban against putting spent bulbs in bins or dumps and as early as now government and industry must find ways to stem the disposal of waste CFLs," Calonzo said.

CFLs, according to the EcoWaste Coalition, poses two key problems that consumers need to be conscious about: first, the risk of being exposed to mercury if CFL bulbs at home or work are broken; and second, the risk of the environment being contaminated with mercury from the disposal of spent CFL bulbs in dumpsites. The anti-dumping group notes that in some places, like in California, USA, the disposal of CFLs in waste bins has been outlawed since 2006.

Considering the risk of mercury pollution when CFLs are damaged during shipment and storage, the government has to enforce clear requirements as to how CFLs should be packed and transported and the measures that should be undertaken in case of road or sea accidents, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

An immediate step which the government can do is to encourage manufacturers and importers of CFLs to sell CFLs that are compliant with the European Union´s directive on the "Restriction on the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances" (RoHS).

According to Atty. Richard Gutierrez, Ban Toxics! Coordinator, the EU enacted the RoHS directive which requires companies to eliminate toxins such as mercury from electrical and electronic products such as CFLs.

However, because of the technological lag, it is not yet possible to totally eliminate mercury from CFLs. To overcome this, the European Union imposed lower levels of mercury in CFLs sold in the European Union.

"If we can require minimal mercury containing CFLs in the Philippines, as we begin to push for these bulbs to combat climate change, this would be a huge step later on when we face the disposal of CFLs," Atty. Gutierrez said.

"More importantly, the industry has to find a safe substitute for mercury use in CFLs, especially because these bulbs are fast becoming the industry standard for energy efficiency. The problem of mercury can be eliminated as demonstrated by the upcoming high efficiency halogens and light emitting diode (LED) technologies also already in the market," said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

In the meantime, the groups urged the government to require CFL manufacturers and retailers to institute a take-back program to ensure that spent mercury-containing bulbs are properly managed.

"As CFL bulbs gain more market traction, it is important that manufacturers, importers, and distributors also start sharing the responsibility for the end-of-life management and disposal of hazardous materials present in the bulbs via product take back schemes. This would encourage manufacturers to design mercury out of their product to reduce costly disposal options,” added Hernandez.


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

15 July 2008

EcoWaste Coalition Calls for Action vs. Hospital Waste Dumping

Quezon City. A waste and pollution watchdog today called for public vigilance against hospitals that continue to dump mixed discards in municipal dumps in violation of the law.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to report any incident of dumping of untreated infectious, pathological and hazardous waste from hospitals and other health care facilities to public service radio or television programs or newspapers to ensure much-needed disclosure in the mass media of such public health hazard.

"While we believe that hospitals in general are conscious of their social and environmental responsibility, we regret to say that some healthcare institutions still practice the bad and toxic habit of dumping highly infectious wastes and sharps in municipal waste dumps," lamented Rei Panaligan, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition.

"The disposal of used syringes and untreated infectious waste through open dumping or open burning increases the risk of spreading disease-causing pathogens as well as the formation of toxic environmental pollutants such as dioxins," Panaligan added.

The group cited the indiscriminate dumping of used syringes, intravenous tubes, anatomical or pathological discards by five of Cebu's major hospitals in the Inayawan dumpsite as documented by Channel 7's "Imbestigador," exposing child and adult scavengers to sharps and very infectious garbage.

Channel 2's "The Correspondents" and Channel 7's "Emergency" have also in the recent past produced documentaries on the health and environmental problems associated with the improper disposal of hospital discards, the group recalled.

"We strongly urge the public to approach their favorite radio or television programs or write to their favorite newspapers as issues and complaints that get media attention tend to get speedy action and result," the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The group made its plea for the ecological management of discards in all public and private hospitals and allied facilities as the nation observes on July 17 the 5th anniversary of the phase out of medical waste incinerators under the Clean Air Act (CAA).

The CAA bans the incineration of municipal, medical and industrial waste and promotes the use of "safe non-burn technologies" for the treatment of the infectious and pathological portions of the health care waste stream.

While outlawing incineration that emits poisonous and toxic fumes, the same law directs local government units to implement in their respective areas a comprehensive ecological waste management, including waste segregation, recycling and composting.

"The illegal and toxic practice of dumping and burning medical discards has to stop,” the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

“For the sake of the people's health and the environment, we urge our hospitals and all other health care institutions to seriously implement health care waste management system and collaborate with local government units to put in place an ecological system for managing their discards to prevent and reduce health and environmental hazards," the EcoWaste Coalition stated.


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

05 July 2008

Citizens Press for Total Ban on Endosulfan to Put Off “Toxic Time Bomb”


Quezon City. Over 50 citizens’ groups and coalitions working for public health, environmental justice and sustainable development joined forces to press for a total ban on endosulfan, stressing that its continued use is akin to a ticking “toxic time bomb.”

In a creative protest held outside the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) in Quezon City, the eco-activists disguised themselves as lethal monsters, donning toxic masks and carrying a huge mock bomb, representing endosulfan and the many grave threats it presents to the people and the environment.

The diverse civil society organizations spoke as one in urging the government to impose without delay and without exemption a complete ban for all uses of endosulfan, the dreaded toxic cargo of the ill-starred M.V. Princess of the Stars that capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon province.

“To reduce the unacceptable threat of endosulfan to human health, wildlife and the environment, we ask the government to ban endosulfan and revoke all exemptions without delay,” Dr. Romy Quijano of the Pesticide Action Network-Philippines and the International POPs Elimination Network said.

PAN and IPEN, along with other groups, have long been campaigning for a
global ban on endosulfan.

“We also urge the government and the industry to switch to ecological, non-chemical pest control practices in agriculture for the health and safety of our farmers, workers, consumers and the whole environment,” Eileen Sison of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force Organic Farming added.

The Manila-based groups were joined by a representative of the Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment, Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE), the lone environmental group in the area, in calling for decisive steps versus possible chemical devastation of the famed Sibuyan Island.

“The possible contamination of Sibuyan Island and its marine environment with endosulfan, tamaron and other chemical cargoes, and bunker fuel from the sunken vessel is already affecting the life and livelihood of our people who depend mainly on the abundance of the sea,” Rodne Galicha of Sibuyan ISLE lamented.

Sibuyan ISLE urges all the parties involved, including the national government, Sulpicio Lines, Del Monte Philippines, Inc. and Bayer Crop Science, among others, to pursue quick and efficient strategies and mechanisms to protect the people, prevent marine pollution and preserve the rich biodiversity and abundance of the Sibuyan Sea.

The various groups also raised the need for the authorities to institute a
community health and environment monitoring program in places exposed to endosulfan, a synthetic organochlorine pesticide, to find out the extent of potential contamination and to come up with an action plan.

Endosulfan was banned by the FPA in 1993, but exemptions to the ban were granted in 1995 to pineapple industry giants Del Monte and Dole to kill the mites that cause the so-called “pink disease” in pineapple plants.

Del Monte and Dole were given “institutional exemption,” allowing them to
use the highly toxic pesticide despite local and global concern against its use.

Extensive studies confirm that endosulfan bioaccumulates in living things, is extremely toxic to almost all kinds of organisms, is very persistent in the environment and is transported long distances, far from its source. These characteristics make endosulfan a notorious global pollutant that has to be eradicated straight away.

Reports further show that endosulfan poisoning has been linked to reproductive and birth abnormalities, congenital physical disorders, mental retardation, neurological problems, cancer and death among agricultural workers and villagers in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Endosulfan, a nerve poison, causes neurotoxicity and can damage the immune system.

Because of its toxicity and persistence in humans, wildlife and the environment, many countries, including the members of the European Union (EU), have outlawed the production, sale and use of endosulfan. In 2007, the EU nominated endosulfan for a global ban under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which the Senate of the Philippines ratified in 2004.

Among the groups/networks and individuals endorsing for a total ban on endosulfan are:
  1. Add Up! Volunteers,

  2. Alliance of Progressive Labor,

  3. Ban Toxics!,

  4. Bangon Kalikasan Movement
  5. Buklod Kalikasan (BUKAL),

  6. Buklod Tao,

  7. Cavite Green Coalition,

  8. Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center,

  9. Concerned Citizens Against Pollution,

  10. Earth Council Asia Pacific,

  11. Earth Renewal Project,

  12. Environmental Advocates Reaching Towards Humanity-University of Santo Tomas (EARTH-UST),

  13. Ecological Society of the Philippines,

  14. EcoWaste Coalition – Task Force Organic Farming,

  15. Environmental Broadcast Circle

  16. Foodfirst Information and Action Network,

  17. Freedom from Debt Coalition,

  18. Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives,

  19. Global Call to Action against Poverty-Philippines,

  20. Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy,

  21. Green Movement of Angono,
  22. Greenpeace Southeast Asia,

  23. Health Care Without Harm,

  24. Hugpong Alburanon Nagpakabana (Hugalna-Bohol),

  25. Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternatives Legal Services, Inc.,

  26. Integrated Rural Development Foundation,

  27. Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives,

  28. International POPs Elimination Project-Southeast Asia,

  29. Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission – Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines,

  30. Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya,

  31. Krusada sa Kalikasan,

  32. Legal Rights & Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines,

  33. Lingkod Tao-Kalikasan,

  34. Manabo Development Foundation, Inc.,

  35. Miriam PEACE,

  36. Mother Earth Foundation,

  37. Negros Organic Agricultural Movement

  38. November 17 Movement,

  39. Organic Movement in the Philippines,

  40. Partido Kalikasan Institute,

  41. People Against Illegitimate Debt,

  42. People's Agricultural Plan for the 21st Century

  43. Pesticide Action Network-Philippines,

  44. Philippine Greens,

  45. Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas,

  46. Pusod, Inc.,

  47. Sagip Pasig Movement,

  48. Save Tanon Strait Citizens Movement,

  49. Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment, Inc.,

  50. Sining Yapak,

  51. Soljuspax,

  52. Task Force Food Sovereignty,

  53. World Environment Day- Philippines Network,

  54. Xaverian Missionaries,

  55. Youth Against Debt,

  56. Zero Waste Philippines,

  57. Fr. Archie Casey, SX

  58. Rei Panaligan,

  59. Danton Remoto ,

  60. Victoria Segovia,

  61. Sister Maria Noel, Ssps,

  62. Dr. Nina Galang,

  63. Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos,

  64. Dr. Vicente C. Ynclino



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