Some 150 people paraded through Quezon Avenue, from Santo Domingo Church to the Ninoy Aquino Monument in Quezon City, unfurling a huge yellow banner measuring 3 meters by 6 meters that says “P-Noy, protect us from toxic chemicals.”
The “People’s Walk for Zero Waste and Chemical Safety President” drew enthusiastic participants from the Advocates for Environmental and Social Justice, Alaga LAHAT, Angkan ng Mandirigma, Ang NARS, Atsitra ng Kalikasan, Ban Toxics, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Diocese of Kalookan Ecological Ministry, Earth UST, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance - Philippines, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace, Malayang Tinig ng mga Kababaihan sa Komunidad, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Quezon City Public Library, Sining Yapak and Zero Waste Philippines.
As if to remind P-Noy of the country’s waste and chemical woes, the green advocates also brought with them a scary “Toxic Monster” in black costume complete with the familiar poison logo of skull and crossbones.
“This walk for a cause expresses our shared hope that P-Noy will rise up to the health and environmental challenge and take concrete action against nasty chemicals to prevent their adverse effects on children and other defenseless groups,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
“The next six years, starting with his first 100 days in office, provide P-Noy with a unique once in a lifetime opportunity to push for waste and chemical reforms that must be acted on or missed. P-Noy is our best hope for a toxic-free future and I’m optimistic he will not fail us,” he said.
Recognizing the special vulnerability of children whose bodies are still developing, the EcoWaste Coalition proposed that P-Noy put high on his agenda the required action against chemicals of global concern such as lead and mercury that can damage the brain and cause low IQ, mental retardation and developmental delays.
“Giving priority consideration to children’s safety and health from toxic chemicals will surely endear P-Noy to all kids and theirparents. More importantly, we can have healthier and happier children by putting their best interests first,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).
Dizon cited several specific action points that P-Noy can do to prevent chemical exposures and injuries, especially among children:
- eliminate lead in paint
- eliminate lead in paint
- declare all schools mercury-free
- ban the importation, sale and use of mercury thermometers
- ban phthalates in toys, school supplies and other children’s articles
- enforce all tobacco control measures, including graphic health information on cigarette packs
- ban cyanide-containing silver jewelry cleaners
- enforce environmentally-sound management of all hazardous waste
The EcoWaste Coalition further asked P-Noy to translate the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) into a national chemical safety policy framework and action plan.
Adopted in 2006 by governments, including the Philippines, SAICM is a global policy and strategy to protect human health and the ecosystems from the harms caused by exposure to toxic chemical substances.
Chemical safety, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, is internationally acknowledged as a key element of any strategy to achieve sustainable development, eradicate poverty and disease, and improve public health and the environment.
The proposed national chemical safety framework and action plan should embrace the principles of 1) precaution, 2) substitution, 3) no data,no market, 4) polluter pays, 5) public’s right to know, 6)environmental justice and other applicable principles, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed.
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