13 August 2010

EcoWaste Coalition proposes use of excess rice stocks to also pay for cleanup and declogging operations

Quezon City. An environmental network campaigning for a “litter-free Pilipinas” urged President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III to dedicate part of the excess rice inventory of the National Food Authority (NFA) to support anti-littering and declogging operations, particularly in disaster-prone estero communities.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the proposal following the separate visits by P-Noy to a estero near Mendiola Bridge on August 10 and by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim on August 12 to Estero de San Miguel and Estero de Paco.

The government through Secretary Paje vowed to clean up within one year these two of the 48 tributaries that drain into the Pasig River, which can serve as a template for estero rehabilitation in Metro Manila.

“In addition to giving the excess rice to needy families to feed malnourished children, we urge P-Noy to use the rice surplus to assist local government units (LGUs) in paying for the cleanup of filthy streets and clogged drains and esteros,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The LGUs will surely need extra help in ensuring the ecological cleanup and maintenance of littering and flooding hotspots in Metro Manila, especially in low-lying areas that get easily inundated by heavy rains,” he said.

“The LGUs should be able to responsibly handle the additional esources to enable them to combat littering that spurs flooding,” he further said.

“This ‘food-for-cleanup’ scheme will contribute to ongoing flood prevention and preparedness efforts as well as in keeping our esteros and surroundings clean,” he added.

“We only hope that volunteers are given adequate orientation on ecological waste management before they are duly deployed to avoid certain problems such as the unhealthy practice of burning street litter,” he pointed out.

The EcoWaste Coalition weighed in on the issue of excess rice stocks in NFA warehouses as the government prepares the guidelines for their distribution and use.

The over importation of rice has almost doubled the NFA’s current rice inventory amounting to 41 million metric tons, according to government sources.

The EcoWaste Coalition had earlier urged P-Noy to lead the campaign for a “litter-free Pilipinas” in view of the anticipated rains and floods during the rainy season.