As the nation marks the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Payatas tragedy, Zero Waste and social justice advocates urge President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III (P-Noy) to take up the cudgels on behalf of the informal waste sector who long for societal attention, recognition and support.
The EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) in a joint statement requested P-Noy to take the lead in ensuring respect and safety for the informal recyclers such as the waste reclaimers at dumpsites.
The groups issued the statement to commemorate the 10th year of the dumpsite tragedy in Payatas, Quezon City that buried hundreds of residents on July 10, 2000.
“The 10th year of the Payatas tragedy provides a timely opportunity for the new government to affirm its compassion and commitment to address the real needs of the informal recyclers, particularly the waste reclaimers who belong to the poorest of the poor,” said RoyAlvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.
“We hope that P-Noy will take the lead in showing society’s gratitude to the informal waste sector for the often ignored recycling work that they do which create jobs and enterprises, conserves resources and mitigates the effects of climate change,” stated Manny Calonzo,Co-Coordinator of GAIA, which runs a waste pickers and climate policy project.
“A public campaign led by P-Noy himself as part of his social contract to provide the people with opportunities to rise above poverty will surely help in instilling community respect for waste recyclers and in promoting their health and safety at work,” Calonzo added.
The groups further hope that P-Noy will use the occasion to remind the Filipino people to constantly strive towards Zero Waste, protect the health of humans and other ecosystems from wastefulness, and prevent any waste disaster from occurring again.
“If the President is keen to learn more about the plight of the informal recyclers, we strongly recommend that he takes time off from his busy schedule, mingle with them and participate in an important activity this Saturday where the National Framework Plan for the Informal Waste Sector in Solid Waste Management will be presented,” Alvarez said.
“His presence will certainly provide much-needed boost to the informal waste sector and to their hopes and dreams for a better future under the new dispensation,” he added.
The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), which is under the Office of the President, will hold a “Pre-Congress for the Informal Waste Sector” this coming Saturday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Occupational Safety and Health Center, North Avenue, Quezon City.
The Framework Plan prepared by the NSWMC in consultation with various stakeholders has recommended five interventions to help improve the conditions of the informal waste sector. These are:
1. Support waste reclaimers to enter new service roles and niches in separate collection and recycling.
2. Assure waste reclaimers access to sorting space at transfer stations and disposal facilities.
3. Support better market leverage and/or diversification of activities through cooperatives and associations.
4. Open channels of communications with formal stakeholders and decision-makers into the planning process.
5. Improve the work conditions through the implementation of environmental and occupational safety practices and systems.
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