25 March 2010

Ten Women Senatorial Bets Vow to Act vs Toxic Chemicals







Quezon City. Ten women aspiring to join the next Senate of the Philippines drew praises from health and environmental advocates for signing on to a historic pledge that could lead to chemicals policy reforms to safeguard Filipino women from toxic exposure.

Women senatorial aspirants led by reelectionists Sen.Miriam-Defensor and Sen. Pia Cayetano signed the “Pledge to Act on Toxic Chemicals to Protect Filipino Women and Children” initiated by the EcoWaste Coalition as part of its effort to highlight chemical safety as a critical element of the people’s agenda for health, empowerment and change in the May 2010 polls.

Joining Santiago and Cayetano were Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Aksyon Demokratiko leader Sonia Roco, Ang Kapatiran hopefuls Atty. Jo Aurea Imbong and Atty. Grace Riñoza-Plazo, Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza, peace and gender justice campaigner Yasmin Busran-Lao, migrant labor rights defender Susan Ople, and child and family rights advocate Atty. Gwendolyn Pimentel.

“We commend our women senatorial bets for their unequivocal commitment to promote legislative measures that will defend the health and safety of our women against chemical contaminants that disrupt bodily functions, causing cancer and other health maladies. We thank them for supporting our call for a toxic-free Philippines,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Their pledge to uphold maternal and child health, promote occupational safety and health, and prevent chemical accidents and disasters is something that all candidates, regardless of political affiliation, should emulate to show serious concern for the welfare of the Filipino women and the whole nation," said Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Secretary, EcoWaste Coalition.

The women senatorial candidates expressed support for chemicals policy reforms as spelled out under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management or SAICM, a global policy, strategy and plan of action to change how chemicals are produced and used in order to minimize harmful effects on human health and the environment.

Such reforms, according to the “Pledge,” should embrace the fundamental principles of chemical safety such as 1) precaution, 2) substitution, 3) no data, no market, 4) polluter pays, 5) public’s right to know and 6) environmental justice.

The EcoWaste Coalition has posted the signed pledges at the group’s website at www.ecowastecoalition.org for the public to see, concluding a series of activities on women and toxics during the Women’s Month this March.

“I express my intent to include in my legislative agenda and plan the elimination of toxic chemicals that invade and threaten both women and children’s health and, thus, the future of the Filipino nation,” he candidates pledged.

“In solidarity with all women and mothers, I commit to propose or co-propose essential Senate resolutions and bills that will promote and protect maternal and child health from hazardous substances,” they said.

The “Pledge” listed several chemicals requiring priority action, including persistent organic pollutants, heavy metals, highly hazardous pesticides and other chemical poisons lurking in foodstuff, toys and other children’s articles, and popular consumer and household products.

If they made it to the next Senate, the women senatorial bets vowed to introduce new laws or strengthen existing ones that will regulate, restrict, phase out or ban the importation, manufacture, marketing, sale and consumption of products containing toxic chemicals and ensure the environmentally-sound management of ensuing waste.

Furthermore, they assured the public that they will support policies, strategies and programs on occupational safety and health and chemical accident prevention and preparedness in the workplace.

The women senatorial candidates likewise will seek the enforcement of chemical safety management systems in hazardous establishments, installations and industries in order to avert chemical disasters, injuries and deaths among workers and residents of host communities.

-end-

ORIGINAL TEXT OF WOMEN SENATORIAL CANDIDATES’ PLEDGE TO ACT ON TOXIC CHEMICALS TO PROTECT FILIPINO WOMEN AND CHILDREN

I, a woman aspiring to serve as a Senator of the Republic of the Philippines, express my intent to include in my legislative agenda and plan the elimination of toxic chemicals that invade and threaten both women and children’s health and, thus, the future of the Filipino nation.

In solidarity with all women and mothers, I commit to propose or co-propose essential Senate resolutions and bills that will promote and protect maternal and child health from hazardous substances, especially priority chemicals that can lead to birth and reproductive disorders, disrupt hormonal functions, damage brain development and cause cancer and other serious ailments.

These priority chemicals will include persistent organic pollutants such as dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls and brominated flame retardants, heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium, and highly hazardous pesticides and other top chemicals of concern such as bisphenol A, phthalates and other chemical poisons lurking in foodstuff, toys and other children’s articles, and in numerous popular consumer and household products.

If elected, it is my commitment, in order to protect public health and the environment, to collaborate with other lawmakers, regulatory agencies, the healthcare sector and the civil society in introducing new laws or in strengthening existing ones that will regulate, restrict, phase out or ban the importation, manufacture, marketing, sale and consumption of products containing toxic chemicals and ensure the environmentally-sound management of ensuing waste.

I will support policies and measures that promote our workers’ occupational safety and health from toxic chemicals. Moreover, I will support strategies and measures that strengthen chemical accident prevention and preparedness and enforce chemical safety management systems in hazardous establishments, installations and industries in order to avert chemical disasters, injuries and deaths among workers and residents of host communities.

Finally, I join the EcoWaste Coalition and other groups striving for a toxic-free Philippines, and will support chemicals policy reforms guided by the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and embracing the principles of 1) precaution, 2) substitution, 3) no data, no market, 4) polluter pays, 5) public’s right to know and 6) environmental justice. In service to the Filipino women and children, I hereby sign this pledge:

Signatories:
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
Sen. Pia Cayetano
Rep. Riza Hontiveros-Baraquel
Rep. Liza Maza
Atty. Jo Aurea Imbong
Mrs. Yasmin Busran-Lao
Mrs. Susan Ople
Atty. Gwendolyn Pimentel
Atty. Grace Riñoza-Plazo
Mrs. Sonia Roco

Notes:

1. Atty. Jo Aurea Imbong added “and perils to health” in the second paragraph after “and serious ailments”; she also added “in the workplace” in the fifth paragraph after “toxic chemicals” and “due process” in the last paragraph after “environmental justice.”

2. Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel added "importation" in the fourth paragraph before the word "manufacture."

3. Sen. Pia Cayetano added “consistent with the policy of sustainable development” in the fourth paragraph after “public health and the environment” and changed the word "join" to "support" in the last paragraph.

4. The rest of the signatories signed the original text of the Pledge.

5. SAICM is a global policy, strategy and plan of action adopted in 2006 by governments and other stakeholders, including the Philippines, to change how chemicals are produced and used in order to minimize harmful effects on human health and the environment. While it is not a globally-binding treaty, SAICM reflects a global political commitment to improve policies and measures to protect the health of children, pregnant women, workers and other vulnerable groups and susceptible environments from toxic chemicals.

No comments: