29 April 2010

Environmental Defenders Empowered by New Supreme Court Rules

Quezon City. Environmental advocates are warming up for potential legal battles in defense of Mother Earth as the much-acclaimed Supreme Court Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases take effect today, April 29.

At a briefing organized yesterday by the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT, over 50 participants from Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, Quezon,
Metro Manila, Cebu and Palawan enthusiastically discussed how the Rules can be applied to bring speedy action to enforce environmental rights and justice.

Among those who took part were partner communities and groups of the EcoWaste Coalition, Alternative Law Groups, Alyansa Tigil Mina, Green Convergence, Greenpeace, Network Opposed to Genetically Modified Organisms, Partnership for Clean Air and the Save Sierra Madre Network and other groups engaged in various environmental advocacies..

The briefing took place against a backdrop of amplified public expectation that the new Rules will catalyze environmental legal awareness, solidarity and action nationwide.

Lead discussant Atty. Gloria Ramos, Professor at the University of Cebu College of Law, pointed out that the Rules signal “a new era of nurturing for our threatened natural support system.”

The Rules include provisions on citizen suits, consent decree, environmental protection order, writ of kalikasan, writ of continuing mandamus, strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP), and the precautionary principle.

“The Rules give full meaning to the State guarantee to each one of us and the future generation of a healthful and balanced ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of Nature,” stated Ramos who is also a member of the Global Legal Action on Climate Change and the Philippine Earth Justice Center.

“When the executive agencies of our government refuse or fail to implement our laws and Congress fails to perform the oversight functions, the judiciary remains as the staunch and steadfast defender of our human rights and as protector of Nature. Citizens can count on the available remedies afforded by the Rules to change the prevailing misplaced sense of entitlement by some sectors,” she pointed out.

Co-discussant Atty. Amang Mejia, counsel of the EcoWaste Coalition, expressly referred to how impacted communities can employ the new Rules to enforce the most brazen forms of breach of RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act such as open burning and open dumping.

“Communities that have long been languishing from health and environmental woes due to open burning, open dumping and other offenses long outlawed by RA 9003 will now have access to various remedies under the new Rules. The Supreme Court has opened the doors of possibilities that citizens can take advantage of to uphold environmental justice,” Mejia stated.

The new Rules will apply to various Presidential Decrees and Republic Acts relevant to air, water, municipal solid waste, toxic substances, forests, wildlife, mining, indigenous peoples, biofuels, renewable energy, fisheries and other laws on the conservation, development, preservation, protection and utilization of the environment and natural resources.

As enumerated in Section 3, the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases aim to accomplish these objectives:

a) To protect and advance the constitutional right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology;

b) To provide a simplified, speedy and inexpensive procedure for the enforcement of environmental rights and duties recognized under the Constitution, existing laws, rules and regulations, and international agreements;

c) To introduce and adopt innovations and best practices ensuring the effective enforcement of remedies and redress for violation of environmental laws; and

d) To enable the courts to monitor and exact compliance with orders and judgments in environmental cases

26 April 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Begs Candidates to Stop Trashing Mother Earth

Quezon City. Heading into the final two weeks of the lively campaign for almost 18,000 elective posts, a waste and pollution watchdog repeated its plea to all the 50,000 candidates to arrest the unimpeded wastefulness in the campaign that is defiling the trees and the environment.

“As the campaign heads into the homestretch, we find the utter disrespect against Mother Earth becoming more blatant and widespread,” lamented Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The political ad bonanza is undeniably turning our streets and even the skies into instantaneous and uncontrolled dumpsites,” he pointed out.

The EcoWaste Coalition specifically bemoaned the way political candidates and their supporters have been desecrating trees with assorted campaign materials, pointing out that nails could damage and stress out trees.

“We are deeply saddened by the way trees are violated as if they do not matter,” noted Alvarez, who has planted over 50,000 tree saplings since 1997, particularly in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.

Trees clean and provide us with breathable air. Trees store water and prevent soil erosion and floods. Trees serve as homes for other living organisms as well as provide shade, food, medicine, paper and fuel, among many other numerous benefits, Alvarez reminded the politicos.

Apart from trees festooned with campaign propaganda, the EcoWaste Coalition also expressed dismay over the brazen violation of other basic electoral and environmental regulations such as the littering of candidates’ promotional leaflets in campaign sorties, the use of smoky vehicles in motorcades, the hanging of posters and streamers on electric wires and posts or over walkways and sidewalks, and the use of oversized posters and billboards.

COMELEC National Capital Region Director Michael Dioneda recently stated that around 95 percent of local and national bets had disobeyed the guidelines on the posting of campaign materials, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“We therefore beg the 50,000 candidates vying for nearly 18,000 national and local positions to stand for Mother Earth and put environmental conservation and protection at the heart of their campaign to win and to serve,” Alvarez said.

“We further dare all pro-environment candidates to show their genuine concern for the environment by voluntarily removing their campaign posters that are illegally nailed on trees or placed outside common poster areas and not wait for the government personnel to remove these for them,” he added.

“Also, we urge them to openly say and assure the public that they will remove all their campaign materials immediately after the election day regardless of the poll outcome,” he said.

The waste and pollution watchdog further appealed to all political hopefuls to abide by the “5 Rs” ( restrain, reduce, respect, retrieve and remove) of ecological campaigning that will prevent and cut wastefulness and the ensuing trash.

RESTRAIN from spending for political advertisements and other forms of election propaganda beyond the legal limits. Don’t cheat your way to victory by overspending.

REDUCE campaign trash by keeping the volume of materials to what is only necessary. Say no to materials that are hardly reused or recycled such as confetti, buntings, balloons and, yes, sample ballots come election day.

RESPECT the trees by not nailing or tying campaign materials on them. Nails hurt and kill trees. Please stick to common poster areas.

RETRIEVE campaign materials, particularly the widely-used tarpaulin banners, and repurpose them as roofing materials, school bags or as carry bags for relief goods. Make sure that spent materials do not get dumped or burned.

REMOVE election campaign materials immediately after the election day on May 10, 2010. Win or lose, bring your tarps down and scrape your posters off the walls.

23 April 2010

Presidential Aspirants Promise to Rid Streets of Smoky Vehicles

Quezon City. Seven candidates for the presidency vowed to vigorously enforce the law to rid Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas of smoke belchers once and for all.

As the celebration of the Earth Day continues, environmentalists welcomed the candidates’ assurance of exercising political will to prevent and reduce vehicular emissions, the main culprit in poor air quality in the metropolis.

“We welcome the candidates’ commitment to enforce the provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and its Implementing Rules and Regulations that seek to remove smoky vehicles off the streets and cut pollution from preventable sources,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Aside from this, we trust that the next President will also work hard in improving fuel quality, in enforcing the ban against open burning and incineration, and in mainstreaming clean renewable energy sources to stop pollution from coal-fired power plants,” Alvarez added.

For his part, Rene Pineda, President of the Partnership for Clean Air said: "All presidential contenders must be able to articulate and ensure the solution to air pollution. Smoke belching per se is the most visible exceedance of set limits but the unseen ones are also, even if within the limits, the greater part of the pollution level. The 'polluter must pay' principle, therefore, should justifiably apply to all emitters to pay for the cost of depriving citizens innate right to clean air."

The groups cited the government’s latest available National Emission Inventory that points to the transport sector as the major source of air pollution where 65% of pollutants come from mobile sources (vehicles), 21% from stationary sources (power plants, factories, incinerators) and 14 % from area sources (open burning, open cooking, road dust). Government data show national annual motor vehicle registration rising from 4,292,272 in 2004 to 5,530,052 in 2007.

Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Sen. Dick Gordon, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Sen. Manny Villar, Coun. JC de los Reyes, environmentalist Nicky Perlas and evangelist Eddie Villanueva cited the need for the effective enforcement of the CAA, one of the country’s principal environmental laws, which, among others, set limits for ambient levels of major pollutants, phased out lead in gasoline and banned waste incineration that emits toxic and poisonous fumes.

The presidential candidates made their positions known through the 2010 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace. Former Pres. Erap Estrada and former Defense Sec. Gibo Teodoro did not take part in the survey.

Asked why smoke belching in Metro Manila has not been effective despite numerous campaigns, Liberal standard bearer alluded to the problem with enforcement and rule of law, saying that “environmental management and governance still returns to the core principle of honest, trusted leadership.”

Nacionalista candidate Villar, one of the principal authors of CAA, expressed enragement over the “ningas cogon” (grass flash fire) implementation of the law, stressing that “the solution is simple:vigorous and sustained campaign against smoke belching.” Villar
exclaimed: “Tama na ang ningas cogon. We must show the public that when we implement our laws we mean business.”

Bangon Pilipinas runner Villanueva likewise called for an intensified anti-smoke belching through roadside inspection and apprehension of violators. To address the crisis, Villanueva proposed expanding and enhancing the MMDA’s enforcement capacities. “It is also time to promote alternative vehicles and conduct research and development in cooperation with foreign experts on new modes of non-pollutive
transportation.”

To rectify the problem with smoky vehicles, independent bet Madrigal proposed a review of the current permit and standard system being observed in the registration of vehicles that go through the emission testing centers.

For his part, Bagumbayan aspirant Gordon intimated a “leadership by example” to minimize vehicular pollution. “I will regularly go out into the streets with a emission tester in hand, and stop the vehicle myself. My environment and transportation secretaries, and police chief will do the same, and we will do this regularly to drive home the point that we have a law, and we are dead serious about implementing the law.”

Environmentalist Perlas stressed that smoke belching “is a matter of political will and corruption,” adding that his administration will clamp down on smoke belching in Metro Manila in the first 100 days and in other highly urbanized areas within a year.

“Review and implement a working CAA” was the quick reply of Ang Kapatiran Party aspirant Coun. de los Reyes.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City
Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

21 April 2010

Groups Disclose Final Results of Green Survey (Perlas, Madrigal, Gordon emerge as greenest candidates

QUEZON CITY. To commemorate Earth Day, environmental groups Greenpeace and the Ecowaste Coalition today released the final results of the 2010 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) with independent candidate Nicky Perlas, Sen. Jamby Madrigal and Sen. Richard Gordon emerging as the “greenest” amongst those aspiring for the presidency.

Perlas garnered the most points based on the overall assessment made by an independent and non-partisan panel of evaluators. Trailing him are Senators Madrigal and Gordon, who had almost equal ranking. Bangon Pilipinas candidate Eddie Villanueva, Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Sen. Manny Villar, and Ang Kapatiran candidate JC Delos Reyes rounded up the green to gray ranking system applied by the GEI evaluators. Former President Joseph Estrada and administration candidate Gibo Teodoro ended at the bottom of the list for their failure to respond to the survey.

“Given the escalating environmental threats now before us, it is important for the public to know where the presidential candidates stand on these issues and how they intend to address these ecological challenges if elected. More than ever, the country needs enlightened leadership to reverse ecological ruin and prepare our people against the impending hardships associated with climate change and interrelated disasters,” said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Focused primarily on the presidential contenders, the 2010 GEI consisted of a pre-election questionnaire challenging them to present and outline their positions on key environmental issues. These include climate change and energy, water, solid waste, chemical safety, sustainable agriculture and genetically modified crops, forests, mining, nuclear power, urban environmental challenges like smoke belching and the proliferation of huge billboards, and the candidates’ environmental agenda during their first 100 days in office.

The evaluators assessed each of the candidates’ responses based on agreed criteria with specific points assigned per question and issue area. Candidates were also asked to affix their signatures on their completed questionnaires. The results and complete responses of candidates will be available to the public at www.greenpeace.org.ph/elections.

“We will make sure to hold whoever wins in the 2010 presidential race accountable for the positions they have outlined in this survey, through the various campaigns and efforts by our member and partner groups. This is part of our continuing mission to ensure good governance in the country. Our leaders have an obligation to honor the public’s desire for a clean and safe environment. This initiative is consistent with that mission, “ said Eileen Sison, NGO representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission, and a member of the GEI panel of evaluators.

Some of the Highlights of the 2010 GEI include the following:

1. All respondents favor the phase-out of coal power and support the increasing share of renewable energy (eg geothermal, wind, solar, etc) in the country’s energy mix;

2. All respondents support the full-scale implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or RA 9003, as well as a ban on single-use plastic bags;

3. All respondents support the elimination of lead and other chemicals of concern in paint and other consumer products;

4. Most candidates (Perlas, Delos Reyes, Villanueva, Madrigal, Gordon) support a ban on the conduct of field trials and commercialization of genetically engineered crops. Villar and Aquino propose more studies;

5. All respondents are against the importation of genetically engineered food crops into the country;

6. All respondents support the position of the Department of Health to stop the aerial spraying of agro-chemicals in banana plantations;

7. All respondents are for the establishment of national targets to progressively reduce the amount of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture;

8. All respondents are in favor of amending the Clean Water Act to incorporate a framework of Zero Discharge of hazardous chemicals from factories and domestic sources;

9. All candidates support the imposition of a Total Commercial Log Ban in the remaining forest areas in the country;

10. With the exception of Sen. Villar, all the respondents are against the proposed re-commissioning of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP). Perlas, Madrigal, Villanueva, Delos Reyes were clearly opposed to nuclear power as an option, while Villar, Gordon and Aquino flagged the need for more studies based on experience in other countries and opinion of experts.

11. All respondents expressed support for an Alternative Mining Code which seeks to revise the current framework of the mining industry in the country.

12. Most candidates opposed the proliferation of huge billboards (Perlas, Delos Reyes, Madrigal, Gordon, Aquino), and all expressed the need to regulate them;

13. All respondents support tackling smoke belching as a priority with Perlas committing to solve the problem as part of his first 100 days, and Gordon vowing to go out in the streets with emission tester at hand to stop violations himself.

14. Sen, Madrigal intends to serve as concurrent Secretary of the DENR if elected and order an immediate review of all Mining permits issued by the government, and suspend further issuances in her first 100 days. Bro. Eddie Villanueva vows to impose a moratorium on all large-scale, open pit mining. Sen. Villar says his first environmental act would be the promotion of green collar jobs, while Sen. Gordon will prioritize the inclusion of sustainable development and climate change adaptation in the Medium Term Development Plan and vows to carry out the plan.

Additional Information for the Media:

A. 2010 Green Electoral Initiative Final Results/Rankings:
1. Nicky Perlas, 94.2 points
2. Jamby Madrigal, 78.68 points
3. Dick Gordon, 78.45 points
4. Eddie Villanueva, 70.87 points
5. Noynoy Aquino, 64.94 points
6. Manny Villar, 62.59 points
7. JC de los Reyes, 38.31 points
8. Erap Estrada, 0 points
9. Gibo Teodoro, 0 points

B. The criteria applied by the panel to assess candidates’ responses include: a) clarity of position FOR the environment, b) quality and comprehensiveness of response, and c) consistency of position.

C. 2010 GEI Panel of Evaluators include:
-Atty. Ipat Luna , noted environmental lawyer and 2007 TOYM awardee
-Manny Calonzo, GAIA Co-Coordinator, former Ecowaste Coalition President and 2009 Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan awardee
-Ceres Doyo, multi-awarded journalist
-Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission and Steering Committee member, Ecowaste Coalition
-Von Hernandez, 2003 Goldman Environmental Prize recipient , TIME Hero for the Environment and Executive Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia

D. Former President Joseph Estrada and administration candidate Gibo Teodoro failed to submit their responses despite an extension of the deadline and regular attempts by organizers to follow up with their staff and campaign representatives. The non-participation of Estrada and Teodoro was seen by GEI Evaluators as an indication that the environment is not a priority in the agenda and platform of both candidates. As a result, both candidates received zero points and landed at the bottom of the rankings.

19 April 2010

Earth Day Plea: Clean Not Your Homes with Poisons

Quezon City - Earth Day is in the air and the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network promoting sustainable consumption and chemical safety, has come up with practical tips for cleaning our homes without poisoning our bodies and the environment.

To mark the 40th year of the Earth Day on April 22, the largely women member groups of the EcoWaste Coalition organized a unique demonstration project on simple, non-toxic, Pinoy-flavored recipes for keeping our homes clean.

Held today at the vicinity of Nepa Q-Mart in Quezon City, the EcoWaste women showed how consumers can remove dust and dirt particles, get rid of foul odors and deal with household pests minus the use of synthetic chemicals.

“Our growing dependence on chemical-based household cleaners is exposing our families, particularly the children, to a cocktail of toxic fumes and substances, many of which have been tested and proven to cause serious health effects on humans and animals,” said Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

Chemicals commonly found in household cleaners, such as ethylene glycol butyl ether, ethoxylated nonylphenol, methylene chloride, naphthalene, paradichlorobenzene, silica, toluene, trisodium nitrilotriacetate and xylene, are classified as known or suspected carcinogens, endocrine disrupters or reproductive toxins.

“To make matters worse, many of these household cleaners are not properly labeled to provide full disclosure of their chemical content, or their toxic elements are buried under generic terms such as fragrance, dye and surfactant," said Sison, adding that "in most cases, such products are not eco-friendly."

“We therefore recommend that we return to the basics, that we detoxify and clean our homes the natural way, to keep our families safe from unnecessary toxic exposures as well as reduce chemical releases into the air and water that could harm not only humans, but also fish and other aquatic organisms,” she added.

The EcoWaste Coalition cited six reasons why it is essential for the Filipino family to switch to non-toxic cleaners, namely:

- to reduce indoor air pollution that is often ignored,

- to reduce human exposure to toxins that can trigger or aggravate diseases,

- to reduce household hazardous solid and liquid waste from being created and disposed of into the environment,

- to reduce environmental pollutants, including greenhouse gases, with the non-use of petroleum and chlorine-based cleaners,

- to reduce market demand for toxic cleaning agents and solutions, and

- to reduce cleaning and maintenance costs.

With inputs from its members, the EcoWaste Coalition has come up with “Ligtas Linis” household cleaning tips that incorporate helpful hints from our “lolas,” no frills ideas from Zero Waste advocates, and adoptable suggestions from other sources.

Among the groups who contributed ideas towards non-toxic household cleaning and maintenance were Arugaan, Buklod Tao, Citizens’ Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Green Stage Filipinas-Maskara, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Krusada sa Kalikasan, SALIKA, Sining Yapak and Zero Waste Philippines.

Among the almost 50 non-toxic as well as cost-cutting "Ligtas Linis" tips are the do it yourself baking soda-based multi-purpose cleaner, sabila (aloe vera) as air freshener, "is-is" leaves for removing char in pots and pans, pineapple peels to clean tiles, banana leaves for polishing wooden floors sans the turpentine smell, toothpaste as silver cleaner, damp newspaper for cleaning glasswindows, malvarosa plant to repel mosquitoes, laurel (bay leaves) to drive away ants, and vinegar as fabric conditioner and chlorine bleach substitute.

“As we mark the Earth Day, we encourage every Filipino home to try and adopt non-toxic household cleaning and maintenance options. Let a safe and healthy home be our shared contribution towards a sustainable future for all,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

-end-

ECOWASTE COALITION LIGTAS LINIS TIPS:

I. General Cleaning:
1. Segregate your discards to make reuse, recycling and composting at home easy.
2. Do not throw hazardous discards into the sink, canal or the rubbish bin.
3. Create your own multi-purpose cleaner by dissolving 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart warm water. Spray or apply with sponge or rag and wipe clean.

II. Cleaning the Air:
1. Make your home a non-smoking zone.
2. Find the sources of unpleasant smells and get rid of them.
3. Keep the air quality pure and clean with the help of house plants.
4. Ensure that all sections of the house are clean and well-ventilated.
5. Refrain from using synthetic fragrances, air fresheners or deodorizers.
6. Place “sabila” (aloe vera) in the rooms to absorb toxins and freshen the air.
7. In a pot over low heat, simmer slices of calamansi or lemon or any citrus in season such as dalandan to rid the air of a stale smell.
8. Leave 2 tablespoons baking soda on a dish to keep obnoxious odors away.
9. Create potpourri from available herbs, spices and indigenous flowers to serve as air freshener.

III. Floor Cleaning:
1. Sweep the floor with “walis tambo” (broom). Save electricity; use the vacuum cleaner sparingly.
2. Do not hose down the garage, sidewalk or street. Conserve water; use the “walis tingting” (broomstick).
3. For tile and linoleum floors, combine ½ to 1 cup vinegar and 1 gallon hot water. Apply on the floor and mop clean.
4. Polish wooden floors with banana leaves. They will turn up shiny, but minus the turpentine smell.
5. To remove stubborn stains from the floor, mix 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water, apply, let stand, scrub and wipe clean.

IV. Kitchen Cleaning:
1. Soak fruits and vegetables thoroughly in a basin to remove chemical residues and use the wastewater to water plants.
2. Use “hugas bigas” (rice water) to clean soiled plates and glasses before washing them with soap and water. It will make the tableware, especially the glasses, shinier.
3. To remove the “tutong” (burnt or hardened food) from cookware, sprinkle the bottom of the pot or pan with baking soda, add hot water, soak for a few hours as necessary, wash and rinse well.
4. Scrub burned pots and pans with “is-is” leaves to remove the “uling” (char),
5. To remove grease and grime from pots and pans, make a paste of 3 tablespoons baking soda, water and a dash of salt. Dip a sponge into the paste, rub onto greasy parts, leave paste dry and then rinse with hot water.
6. To clear a clogged drain, pour baking soda and then add boiling water. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse with warm water. For normal cleaning of basin and drain, use full-strength vinegar.
7. Place an open box of baking soda (or a few pieces of charcoal) in the refrigerator to eliminate odors.
8. To neutralize unpleasant cooking odors resulting from frying fish or cooking “bagoong” (shrimp or fish paste), boil a cup or two of vinegar in a small pot. The vinegar will absorb the odors.

V. Toilet and Bathroom Cleaning:
1. To clean tiles, scrub the surface with “kamias” (ginger lily) or pineapple peels as substitutes for chlorine-based cleaners.
2. To clean tiles, simply sprinkle baking soda on the surface, rub with a wet sponge and rinse well with warm water. Or mix ½ teaspoon washing soda, ¼ to ½ teaspoon liquid soap, 3 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 cups hot water in a spray bottle or pail, apply and wipe clean.
3. For toilet bowls, sprinkle baking soda in and around the bowl (or pour ¼ cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar into the bowl). Let sit for a few minutes, scrub or brush clean, then flush.

VI. Laundry Cleaning:
1. Choose an eco-friendly laundry detergent.
2. Replace half of each measure of laundry detergent with baking soda to keep clothing fresh.
3. To remove stains, pre-treat stains with baking soda paste, or pre-soak clothes in laundry soap with calamansi.
4. White vinegar from your kitchen is a good substitute for fabric conditioner and a boon to allergy-prone skin. Add a cup to your last rinse, and don't worry about the sour smell -- it evaporates rapidly as your clothes dry, leaving them soft and fresh.

VII. Metals Cleaning:
1. To clean off tarnish, coat and rub silver with toothpaste, rinse with warm water and dry with soft cloth.
2. Put foil in the bottom of a pan. Add water enough to cover the silver. Add 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, add the silver pieces and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan, rinse well and dry.
3. To polish chrome and other metals, sprinkle flour on the surface and rub clean.

VIII. Glass Cleaning:
1. To polish glass windows, rub them clean with damp newspaper.
2. For stubborn dirt, mix one part vinegar and one part water, apply or spray on the glass and wipe until dry and shiny.

IX. Garden Cleaning:
1. Don’t burn fallen leaves, dried twigs and other yard discards. Compost them!
2. Avoid insecticides, herbicides and pesticides to deal with garden pests and weeds.
3. Log on to http://ecologycenter.org/factsheets/#pest for fact sheets on non-toxic pest and weed control.

X. Dealing with Household Pests:
1. To drive cockroaches away, put some raw pandan leaves in cupboards.
2. To make a cockroach trap, half fill a bottle with a sweet drink and add a tablespoon of oil. The sweet drink will attract cockroaches into the bottle, and the oil will prevent them from climbing out. Bury the dead cockroaches afterwards.
3. To repel ants, crumble dry bay leaves in doorways and window sills; or mash chili in water, or mix 1 part vinegar and 1 part water and apply to counter tops; or squeeze calamansi juice into the hole or crack where ants come from.
4. For houseflies, scratch the skin of an orange or other citrus fruit and leave out or hang with a cluster of cloves.
5. To drive mosquitoes away, plant malvarosa, marigold, basil or “tanglad” (lemon grass) or citronella around the house, or hang some “tanglad” on windows and doors.
6. Refrain from using mosquito coil or chemical spray and opt for mosquito net (kulambo) instead.
7. For rats, put fresh or dried mint leaves or moisten small balls of cotton wool with clove oil in closets and cupboards to repel rats.
8. For more information, please refer to “Debug Your Home the Natural Way: A Quick Guide to Safer Pest Control at Home” at www.panap.net

17 April 2010

Groups cite 7 presidential bets for common stance to regulate billboards

Quezon City. Environmental advocacy groups cited seven presidential bets for their sensitivity to visual pollution and the public safety risks posed by huge billboards.

The EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace lauded presidential candidates Coun. JC de los Reyes of Ang Kapatiran Party, Sen. Dick Gordon of Bagumbayan Movement, Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas, Sen. Noynoy Aquino of Liberal Party, Sen. Manny Villar of Nacionalista Party, Sen. Jamby Madrigal and environmentalist Nicky Perlas for their common position to regulate billboards.

The seven candidates articulated their views regarding the proliferation of billboards in their responses to the 2010 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI), a pre-election survey conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace to determine the position of presidential candidates on key environmental issues facing the nation. Former Defense Sec. of Lakas-CMD Gibo Teodoro and former President Joseph Estrada of Partido ng Masang Pilipino did not respond to the survey.

“If one of the seven candidates wins in May, we hope that he or she will finally put a break to the explosion of billboards that impairs and ruins the view, distracts drivers, consumes loads of PVC and electricity, and causes physical harm when billboards are knocked down by the forces of nature or give way due to structural flaws,” said Sonia Mendoza of the Mother Earth Foundation and EcoWaste Coalition.

Oversized billboards gained notoriety in September 2006 when typhoon Milenyo toppled dozens of billboards in Metro Manila, killing one driver when one giant billboard fell and smashed his van and prompting Sens. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Bong Revilla to co-sponsor Senate Bill 2482 or the Anti-Billboard Blight Act to regulate the placement of billboard signs.

Billboards recently grabbed headlines when the Commission on Elections ordered non-compliant candidates, including some presidential and senatorial aspirants, to dismantle their oversized campaign billboards installed in major thoroughfares.

The seven presidential bets drew attention to the need to protect the natural environment from being spoiled by out-of-size, out-of-place billboards, which can also cause accidents and threaten public safety.

Two candidates drew attention on how billboards invade and take over public spaces.

“Cleaning up our cities requires the management of our public spaces. Buildings and scaffolds may be owned privately, but unsightly billboards impact upon the public space by imposing a view on others,” Gordon said.

“We need to reclaim public space,” Madrigal asserted.

Other candidates underscored the public safety issues linked with billboards.

“They’re not only eyesores, but also a distraction to drivers, making them a road safety hazard,” Aquino said.

“We must determine what is permissible considering the hazards which these billboards may cause to our motorists and pedestrians,” Villar stated.

Most candidates saw the need to impose regulations and standards with respect to the size, location and engineering requirements of billboards “that would not require the cutting down of trees and/or compromise natural scenic views that detach citizens from environmental appreciation and care” as Villanueva pointed out.

As far as political billboards are concerned, Coun. de los Reyes cited AKP’s political platform #37, which forbids the setting up of billboards or similar media in public places with pictures of the public official responsible for the project or for any other purpose.

Apart from the aesthetic, public space and safety issues, the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace added that policy makers also need to look at the environmental and climate impacts of billboards that are notorious for their massive consumption of PVC plastic as well as electricity to light up their advertising messages at night.

-end-

15 April 2010

Green Groups Applaud SC for Promulgating New Rules to Hasten Resolution of Environmental Cases


Quezon City. Environmental health and justice groups laud the Supreme Court for promulgating a groundbreaking set of rules that will finally hasten the resolution of environmental cases.

The Supreme Court on 14 April 2010 published the “Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases” that will take effect 15 days later.

The Rules were developed with inputs not only from legal luminaries, but also from numerous environmental leaders and activists who participated in consultative processes organized by the Supreme Court.

“We hail the Puno court for providing our citizens with new tools to expedite their quest for the elusive environmental justice,” said lawyer Amang Mejia, counsel of the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network that has previously commended Chief Justice Reynato Puno for his “green judicial activism.”

“It is now up to the people to speak out, go to the courts and test the Rules to seek remedies against crimes committed against Mother Nature,” he emphasized.

The Rules allow any Filipino citizen in representation of others, including minors or generations yet unborn, to file an action to enforce rights or obligations under environmental laws.

“The triumph of environmental justice hinges on an enlightened citizenry who have the courage to speak, organize and act to assert their right to live in healthy, toxic-free and sustainable communities,” added Mejia.

The Rules will cover cases involving the enforcement of the country’s environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Act, Oil Spill Compensation Act, National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, Indigenous People’s Rights Act, Philippine Fisheries Code, Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, to name a few.

The EcoWaste Coalition specifically commended the Supreme Court for integrating the precautionary principle into the Rules.

Rule 20 says that “when there is a lack of full scientific certainty in establishing a causal link between human activity and environmental effect, the court shall apply the precautionary principle in resolving the case before it.”

Rule 20 lists the following factors, among others, that may be considered in applying the precautionary principle: 1) threats to human life or health, 2) inequity to present or future generations, and 3) prejudice to the environment without legal consideration of the environmental rights of those affected.

“With this, we anticipate the courts hewing arguments and decisions espousing that the protection of the people’s health and the environment takes precedence over personal or corporate gains,” noted Eileen Sison, NGO representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

For her part, Atty. Golly Ramos of the Global Legal Action on Climate Change said that the Rules “will transform the legal profession and the practice of law in our country and instill a mindset of sustainability among stakeholders.”

“The wide gap existing between the law and reality will be narrowed down as the trail-blazing remedies such as the writ of kalikasan, writ of continuing mandamus, citizen suit and anti-SLAPP, afforded to the people, ecological stewards and dedicated civil servants will render the violation or non-compliance of environmental laws a very expensive and tedious option,” Ramos pointed out.

To expedite the resolution of cases, the Rules prohibit the following pleadings or motions that are oftentimes abused causing delays in court proceedings: 1) motion to dismiss the complaint, 2) motion for a bill of particulars, 3) motion for extension of time to file pleadings, except to file answer, 4) motion to declare the defendant in default, reply and rejoinder, and third party complaint.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition, the new Rules should facilitate speedy action on cases now pending in the 117 Supreme Court-designated environmental courts.

“We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to environmental issues. Tardy judicial processes can lead to costly rehabilitation of affected sites or, worse, irreparable damage to public health and the ecosystems. Environmental justice delayed is environmental justice denied,” Sison stated.

-end-

Seven Presidential Candidates Declare Support for Mining and Forestry Reforms (5th installment of 2010 Green Survey)

Quezon City – Seven candidates vying for the country's presidency expressed their support for reforms in the mining and logging policies to arrest the degradation of the country's forests and natural resources.

The candidates expressed their support for the enactment of the Alternative Mining Code that seeks to revise the current framework for the mining industry. The candidates also expressed support for the imposition of a total commercial log ban in the country's remaining forests.

In this fifth installment of the 2010 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) survey results by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace, presidential candidates' responses to mining issues were ranked with environmentalist Nicky Perlas garnering the top score of 8.9 points. Perlas was followed by Sen. Noynoy Aquino with 7.4 points, Sen. Manny Villar 6.3 points, evangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva 6.1 points, Sen. Dick Gordon 5.7 points, Sen. Jamby Madrigal 5.5 points and Coun. JC De Los Reyes 4.5 points

For responses to the questions on forests, Sen. Madrigal topped the pack with 7.9 points followed by Perlas with 7.7 points, Gordon 7.6 points, Aquino 7.4, Villanueva 6.5 points, Villar 6.2 points and de Los Reyes 4.7 points.

Also, all seven respondents replied that they were for a total commercial logging ban on the remaining forested areas of the country. Aquino, Gordon, Perlas and Villar cited particularly primary forests for such a ban. They also cited strategic ways to curb corruption and enforce laws against illegal logging.

Former President Erap Estrada and Sec. Gibo Teodoro got zero points for both topics for their failure to answer the GEI survey.

Mining and forest issues correspond to 10 points each and will be tallied along with other pressing environmental issues to get the whole GEI scorecard of the candidates.

Meanwhile, the Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), a network of more than eighty (80) organizations from mining-affected communities and civil society organizations, laud the candidate's support for reforms on the framework for the mining industries in the country.

“For now, we are satisfied with the ‘words’ of support of the presidentiables for an alternative mineral policy. We are hopeful that whoever wins the presidential race will immediately put an end to the current flawed mining framework that did more harm than good in addressing the fiscal problems, poverty situation, environmental and other socio-political concerns in our country,” said ATM national coordinator Jaybee Garganera.

“In particular, we challenge the next administration to scrap the Mining Act of 1995, issue a nationwide moratorium on large-scale mining operations and make the Alternative Mining Bill as their priority policy within the first 100 days as head of state,” concluded Garganera.

Even though the candidates promised to support the implementation of a total commercial log ban in our remaining forests, green advocates vow to always monitor their commitments to stop the rampant extraction of the country’s natural resources.

“Our forests and ecosystems are on a precipice! Words during campaign mean nothing until whoever wins is held fully accountable. We expect immediate action and results,” said Ipat Luna, an environmental lawyer and 2007 TOYM-awardee.

The final results of the GEI will be revealed to the public in time for the Earth Day celebration on April 22.


For more information:
Rei Panaligan, EcoWaste Coalition, 441-1846/ 0920-9062348
Jaybee Garganera, ATM Coordinator, 0915- 3153719
Roslyn Arayata, ATM Policy Officer, 0917- 5217937

13 April 2010

EcoWaste Coalition Seeks Strict Enforcement of Toxic Warning Labels in Consumer Products

Makati City. A non-governmental organization campaigning for consumer safety against toxic chemicals today pressed the authorities to ensure warning labels in products containing hazardous substances.

The EcoWaste Coalition specifically asked the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of R.A. 7394, or the Consumer Protection Act, to ensure that the labeling requirements under the law are fully complied with.

At the same time, the group called on all aspiring presidents and lawmakers to integrate into their platforms the need to uphold the basic rights of consumers such as the right to be informed and protected against exposure to hazardous substances that can cause health as well as environmental woes.

Then Pres. Corazon Aquino approved R.A. 7394 on 13 April 1992 in pursuit of the state policy “to protect the interests of the consumer, promote his general welfare and to establish standards of conduct for business and industry.”

To drive home their message, members of the EcoWaste Coalition peaceably assembled in front of the DTI headquarters in Makati City carrying colorful posters that read “right to ask, right to know, protect consumers from toxic harm.”

“While R.A. 7394 spells out certain labeling and fair packaging requirements, their enforcement leaves much to be desired, especially in common consumer products laced with toxic chemicals,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition's Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

“The health and safety of our consumers should be in the agenda of every politico running for the May 2010 polls, particularly for presidential, senatorial and congressional hopefuls who are in the best position to push for stronger chemical safety and consumer protection laws,” he added.

In 2009, the EcoWaste Coalition, working in partnership with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, had samples of plastic slippers and leather shoes tested in Sweden for certain chemicals of concern.

“To our shock, most of the samples tested positive for hazardous chemicals such as endocrine disrupting phthalates and cancer-causing benzidine, to name a few, and none of them carried labels that would tell and caution consumers about their toxic contents,” Dizon said.

The EcoWaste Coalition views effective and mandatory observance of truthful toxic warning labels as a fundamental risk reduction strategy that has to be sternly enforced, while continuing the drive to remove toxic chemicals out of consumer products.

The group cited Article 91 of the Consumer Protection Act of 1992, which describes the characteristics of mislabeled hazardous substances.

According to the law, hazardous substances shall be deemed mislabeled when such substance fails to bear a label, which states conspicuously:

(i) the name and the place of business of the manufacturer, packer, distributor or seller;

(ii) the common or usual name or the chemical name of the hazardous substance or component;

(iii) the signal word "danger" on substances which are extremely flammable, corrosive or highly toxic;

(iv) the signal word "warning" or "caution" on all other hazardous substances;

(v) a clear statement as to the possible injury it may cause if used improperly;

(vi) precautionary measures describing the action to be followed or avoided;

(vii) instructions when necessary or appropriate for first-aid treatment;

(viii) the word "poison" for any hazardous substance which is defined as highly toxic;

(ix) instructions for handling and storage of packages which require special care in handling and storage; and

(x) the statement "keep out of the reach of children", or its practical equivalent, if the article is not intended for use by children and is not a banned hazardous substance, with adequate directions for the protection of children from the hazard involved.

The EcoWaste Coalition further drew attention to special packaging requirements that will protect children from serious personal injury or illness resulting from the handling and use of certain products, especially those containing harmful chemicals.

-end-

09 April 2010

Presidential bets want coal energy phase-out (But Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition survey show some are iffy on nuclear)

Quezon City,. 09 April 2010 – Greenpeace and EcoWaste Coalition today released the fourth instalment of the Green Electoral Initiative (GEI), a survey intended to determine the Presidential candidates’ stand on key environmental issues. The latest results show their respective positions when it comes to energy development in the country.

While all of the survey participants want coal energy phased-out, and almost all of them are against the proposed re-commissioning of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), some of the candidates’ responses regarding the use of nuclear power and the disposal of nuclear wastes were non-committal. Exceptions to this are Nicanor Perlas and Senator Jamby Madrigal, who answered clearly that they are against nuclear power. Senator Richard Gordon, on the other hand, favors going nuclear.

Perlas placed first in this latest installment of the GEI, garnering an average of 9.5 points. Perlas pointed to energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy (RE) as solutions to the country’s energy challenges, instead of turning to nuclear power. “I am convinced that the Philippines does not need nuclear power and the massive social and environmental costs that go along with it. We can supply the country’s need for energy using energy efficiency and green energy technologies.”

Madrigal was similarly very explicit about her stand against nuclear energy: “As President, I shall institute a firm government policy against nuclear power. I shall also launch an investigation on the country’s losses due to odious debt and trade, including BNPP transactions marred by corruption and import overpricing and initiate seeking restitution for 1.06 billion USD debt.” Madrigal achieved an average of 7.5 points.

To justify his pro-nuclear stance, Gordon said, “I think it is unconscionable that we have spent billions of the people's money on something we cannot use because of our fears…We have to look at other countries who use nuclear power, send our scholars to study how going nuclear has worked in other countries, and ultimately apply these methods that have already worked back home.” GEI evaluators noted, however, that the senator did not offer any solution to the problem of nuclear waste disposal. Gordon placed seventh, with an average of 4.9 points.

While lauding the common position against dirty coal power, Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition lamented, however, that some pro-nuclear candidates were underestimating the fundamental problems associated with nuclear power. “The problem of nuclear waste disposal is being swept under the rug,” he said. “Contrary to what proponents of nuclear energy say, there is still no safe, foolproof way to dispose of nuclear waste, and it looks like it will take them many more years or decades before a viable solution is even thought of. But the Philippines doesn’t have the luxury of time.”

“Instead of remaining fixated on dirty, dangerous and expensive energy options, our leaders should look at harnessing the vast renewable energy potential available in the country,” added Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Together with energy efficiency, RE technologies are already available, economically viable, and will help ensure a safe and sustainable energy future for the country.”

Senator Benigno Aquino III and evangelist Eddie Villanueva tied at third and fourth place, each with an average of 7 points. Senator Manny Villar placed fifth with an average of 5.4 points. At sixth place is Councilor JC de los Reyes with an average of 5.2 points. Former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and former President Joseph Estrada both scored 0 points for not submitting any answer to the GEI survey.

The complete, overall ranking of the GEI survey will be released on or before Earth Day, April 22.

-end-

08 April 2010

PRESIDENTIAL BETS WANT AERIAL SPRAY BAN

Quezon City. Seven presidential candidates have expressed their support for the ban of aerial spraying in banana plantations, according to the latest results of the 2010 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) Survey conducted by Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Ecowaste Coalition.

But among the answers provided, environmentalist Nicanor Perlas’ and Senator Richard Gordon’s answers stood out as having the most clear and progressive position on the issue.

The survey question was: “ Are you FOR or AGAINST the position of the Department of Health recommending that the practice of aerial spraying of agrochemicals in banana plantations be stopped?”

Perlas took the issue head-on, emphasizing on sustainable agriculture as a solution. “We will ban the aerial spraying of hazardous chemicals especially on banana plantations. Instead, we will promote sustainable agriculture approaches to pest and disease management that will adequately protect crops from damage, while protecting the health of communities and ecosystems. Most of the pesticides sprayed by plane do not reach the target pest. If they do, the pests develop immunity.

The immunity requires the use of even more dangerous pesticides. In the end, the farmers, consumers, community and the environment pays the price for this escalation of the pesticide war against insects. In the end, humanity only creates super pests immune to pesticides and will lose this chemical warfare. Ecological approaches have no such drawbacks.”

Sen. Richard Gordon, meanwhile, got plus points for his incisive grasp on the ban aerial spraying issue. “I would emphasize here that aerial spraying forces people to inhale toxins against their will,” he said.

“A plantation owner who uses pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers on his own property can arguably be within his rights to do so, but when it enters the public realm and affects other people or the environment, he causes an injury that government is obligated to prevent.”

Election survey frontrunner, Senator Benigno Aquino III of the Liberal Party, also pushed for a ban “especially if there are no clear safeguards and testing of the agrochemicals used.” He added that “ Insecticides and pesticides used in any aerial spraying should be outright banned.

His closest rival, Senator Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party, agreed with him, pointing out that during his tenure at the Senate, he filed a resolution directing the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food and Health and Demography to conduct an investigation into the practice of aerial spraying in banana plantations.

Coun. JC Delos Santos of Ang Kapatiran, Senator Jamby Madrigal and Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas all vowed to stop aerial spraying if they are elected. De los Reyes agreed with the Department of Health recommendation to ban aerial spraying while Madrigal, who is running as an independent, will expand the ban to include other farm lands not planted with bananas. Bro. Villanueva promised to push for legislative action for banning aerial spraying.

Meanwhile, members of the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spray (MAAS) in Davao City welcomed the survey results. Dagohoy Magaway, MAAS President, said that this latest survey has clearly shown who among the candidates has a clear agenda towards protecting the environment. “The survey points the way for us, voters, on who among the candidates has the genuine heart and concern for the plight of the environment and the rural folk”, he said.

Magaway, however, was disappointed that former President Joseph Estrada of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro who is running under Lakas-Kampi did not participate in the GEI Survey. “It would have been instructive for us had they made known their stand on the various environmental issues plaguing the country”, he said. Teodoro however, has been caught in video saying he does not see anything wrong with aerial spraying comparing it even with air fresheners.

The GEI survey was conducted to help voters ascertain the environmental platforms and programs of those running for the presidency. Results of the survey were translated into ‘green’ rankings to show who among the candidates consider environment as one of the key issues of concern in 2010 presidential elections. The final green rankings of the presidential bets will be disclosed in time for Earth Day 2010.

-end-

07 April 2010

EcoWaste Coalition slams political noise pollution, appeals for moderation

Quezon City. As the campaign season rages like the heat of the blazing sun, a waste and pollution watchdog drew attention to the laxity of regulating noise emanating from the frenzied political activities.

The EcoWaste Coalition warned that the unchecked noise pollution from the competing politicos and their campaign machineries will likely worsen as the May 10 national and local polls near.

The group, which is campaigning for ecological responsibility in the exercise of the right to suffrage, underscored the problem with noise pollution on the occasion of the World Health Day today, April 7, which focuses on urban living and health.

“The non-stop noise from loudspeakers blurting out political jingles and blurbs in the streets and other public spaces is already infringing on the people’s right to a peaceful and tranquil environment,” said Rene Pineda of the Citizens’ Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability and the EcoWaste Coalition.

“While we understand the need of our politicians to reach out to the electorate, it is only fair that the public should not suffer from too much noise,” he said.

“Given that we have no specific rules under our election laws on what will constitute reasonable noise limits, we ask all candidates to be sensitive enough not to turn the loudspeakers up full blast and cause offense or annoyance. Kaunting hina naman,” Pineda stated.

While the Omnibus Election Code has no provision regulating noise from political activities, there may exist local ordinances in some jurisdictions that regulate and penalize offending noise, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“The politicians, therefore, are not only violating human rights per se, but existing ordinances. They could be breaking their own ordinances versus noise pollution as no one is supposed to be exempt from the law,” Pineda stressed.

Aside from moderating the volume of their loudspeakers, the EcoWaste Coalition expressed hope that responsible politicos will voluntarily stop airing their political jingles and ads near hospitals and places of study and worship.

Citing information from the Environmental Protection UK, the EcoWaste Coalition said that noise, an “unwanted sound,” can cause irritability and pressure for many people and harm the sense of hearing depending on the intensity of the noise, among other factors.

UK’s Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993 makes noise in the street a statutory nuisance, providing restrictions on the use of loudspeakers in the streets and other sources of noise, the EcoWaste Coalition noted.


Information source:
http://www.environmental-protection.org.uk/noise/environmental-noise/noise-pollution/

06 April 2010

Beauty pageant contestants make a pitch for greener poll campaign


Quezon City. Fifty-two women aspiring to become beauty queens for the environment today challenged all candidates for the May 2010 national and local elections to unite and stand up for Mother Earth.

The would-be “environmental diplomats” urged political candidates to woo voters with the health of Mother Earth in mind during the presentation before the press of the contestants vying for Miss Philippines - Earth 2010.

The message “One Vote, One Earth, Our Future” rang out as contestants coming from as far as Vigan in the north to Tawi-Tawi in the south and from the Filipino communities in France and USA paraded in water-inspired blue swimsuits.

To emphasize their message, the women paraded while holding placards that read “go for waste-free election,” “say no to guns, goons, gold and garbage,” “spare the trees (they don’t vote),” “keep your tarps to the minimum,” and “remove streamers from electric wires and posts," to cite a few.

“Our message ‘One Vote, One Earth, Our Future' underscores the need to fuse the exercise of our right to vote and be elected with our shared responsibility to protect the environment from harm, which is too often ignored,” said Sandra Inez Seifert, Miss Philippines-Earth 2009 and Miss Earth-Air 2009.

The contestants’ pitch for environmental responsibility in the quest for political democracy drew support from the EcoWaste Coalition, a waste and pollution watchdog, which has partnered with the Miss Earth Foundation in campaigning for waste-free polls.

“We lament the wastefulness of the election campaign. It is as if the environment does not matter at all to most candidates in the race for their coveted positions. We appeal to all aspiring public servants to campaign responsibly and heed what the Miss Philippines-Earth hopefuls are saying,” said Eileen Sison of the EcoWaste Coalition and NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

With just over a month before the poll date on May 10, the Miss Earth Foundation and the EcoWaste Coalition expressed dismay over the candidates' utter disrespect of campaign guidelines despite repeated reminders from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

The groups identified several campaign excesses and violations of rules that are time and again ignored by many national and local candidates and their supporters, including:

1. Posting campaign materials outside the designated common poster areas.

2. Nailing or tacking posters on trees.

3. Displaying posters and streamers that exceed the prescribed sizes.

4. Hanging posters and streamers on electric posts or over walkways and sidewalks.

5. Putting up oversized and/or out of place billboards.

“It is not too late for the candidates to show they also care for the environment. They need not wait for disqualification cases to be filed against them for violating campaign rules. We ask them to voluntarily clean and straighten up their campaigning, starting with the removal of posters nailed on trees,” the groups said.

In addition to observing the COMELEC campaign guidelines, the groups also pleaded to all political candidates, parties and partylist groups to integrate environmental care and protection into their electoral platforms.

“Business as usual is no longer an option for our country after Ondoy and the ongoing onslaught of El NiƱo on our farms and dams. We therefore appeal to all who are running for the 2010 polls not to digress from their responsibility and put the environment at the heart of their political agenda,” the EcoWaste Coalition and the Miss Earth Foundation pointed out.

-end-

05 April 2010

Presidential Aspirants Back Lead-Free Paints for Children's Health (EcoWaste Coalition, Greenpeace release 3rd installment of Green Survey results)

Quezon City. To the delight of children’s health and chemical safety campaigners, seven presidential candidates have declared their common stance towards the elimination of lead, a toxic metal, in paints.

Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Sen. Dick Gordon, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Sen. Manny Villar, Coun. JC de los Reyes, environmentalist Nicky Perlas and evangelist Eddie Villanueva favored lead-free paints to promote the health and wellness of Filipino children.

The EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace announced the 3rd installment of the Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) survey results in time for the World Health Day on April 7, which highlighted the presidential candidates’ positions and plans on chemical pollution and consumer safety issues.

Perlas ranked first with 9.1 points, followed by Gordon 7.9, Villanueva 6.98, Madrigal 6.26, Villar 6.16, Aquino 5.14 and de los Reyes 1.8. The other two candidates, former Pres. Erap Estrada and Defense Sec. Gibo Teodoro, failed to earn points in the green ranking exercise for not responding to the survey.

“Eliminating lead in paints is key to reducing lead hazards in the environment and in preventing childhood lead exposure and poisoning.

We are thrilled to learn that our presidential candidates are one with us in our advocacy to ensure our children’s health and safety from lead,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and the International POPs Elimination Network, a global NGO network that has initiated a campaign to put children’s health first and eliminate lead paint.

"We've already phased out lead in gasoline. It's high time for the national government to now cut the largest source of lead exposure for our children, lead in paint, and vigorously push for an industry shift to kid-safe, non-toxic alternatives," added Ines Fernandez of Arugaan and the Save Babies Coalition.

According to the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paints (an international partnership jointly coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization), “children are particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of lead, and even relatively low levels of exposure can cause serious and in some cases irreversible neurological damage.”

Lead has caused extensive environmental contamination, human exposure and health problems, including neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and renal system ailments, according to UNEP and WHO.

Gordon, Madrigal and Villar pointed to the health and environmental hazards posed by lead in paints, with Gordon stressing that “we cannot allow toxins that severely affect human health – and intellectual capacity at that – to proliferate.”

Perlas and Villanueva reiterated that alternatives to lead in paints exist, “but we need a strong consumer protection agency that is free from inappropriate industry influence—one that involves civil society participation” stated Perlas.

On the broader issue of chemical safety, Perlas, Gordon, Villanueva and Madrigal offered the most extensive inputs that drew the attention of the GEI non-partisan evaluators, including proposals on how to integrate chemical safety into the country’s health, environment and development agenda such as through consumer information and education, product labeling, and public disclosure of chemicals in materials, products and wastes.

Perlas emphasized the need to address not only the harmful chemicals in consumer products, but also the toxins in agriculture, energy and mining sectors, while also underlining the need to heighten consumer awareness regarding the importance of reading and understanding the labels placed on food products.

“(I will) require manufacturers to fully and properly disclose and register on a publicly accessible registry linked to other similar registries in other countries the chemical components of their raw
materials, consumer products, and waste, and make exposures to the general public of toxic substances become an issue of consumer safety, and work with Congress to amend existing environmental and consumer protection laws,” Gordon said.

Villanueva, for his part, proposed the establishment of a broad chemicals safety information network that will enable information on chemicals, their properties and their safe handling and management to thoroughly penetrate the public consciousness.

In addition to issuing an executive order on chemical safety, Madrigal pledged to initiate a review on the country’s policy on poison control and regulation.


Note:

WHO/UNEP information on lead in paint:
http://www.who.int/ipcs/features/pb_alliance/en/index.html

IPEN webpage on “Children’s Health First, Eliminate Lead Paint” campaign:
http://www.ipen.org/ipenweb/work/lead/lead_paint.html