At the same time, the groups asked the government to waste no time in ensuring the safe disposal of some 10 metric tons of endosulfan retrieved from the ill-fated vessel, which are currently stored in a private warehouse in Bulacan.
The EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, both members of “Bantay Endosulfan” (Endosulfan Watch), pressed the Aquino administration to immediately constitute an action team that will ensure the environmentally-sound disposal of the banned pesticide stocks.
The fifth Conference of Parties (COP5) of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which ended Friday, agreed to include endosulfan in Annex A of the treaty for global elimination, subject to specific exemptions.
“We applaud the decision of COP5 to finally ban endosulfan as a huge triumph for health and justice, and we honor the governments and citizens behind this historic verdict, especially the pollution victims, the Pesticide Action Network and the International POPs Elimination Network," said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA.
"Now that the cat is out of the bag, we ask P-Noy to urgently deal with our own stockpile of the exceedingly toxic agrochemical,” he said.
“We have repeatedly reminded both the Arroyo and the Aquino administrations about the looming global action to ban endosulfan under the POPs treaty and the need for swift action to ship back the pesticide to its manufacturer,” recalled Calonzo.
“From day one, we have pushed for ‘return to sender’ knowing our country’s lack of appropriate facility where endosulfan can be disposed of in such as manner that it is destroyed or irreversibly transformed,” he added.
Calonzo, quoting a letter to Bantay Endosulfan dated September 11, 2008 by then DOTC UndersecretaryMaria Elena Bautista, said that “Del Monte Phils., as consignee and supposed owner of the cargo intends to ship back said chemical to its manufacturer in Israel.”
“However, inasmuch as there is an on-going court case between the Sulpicio Lines and Del Monte Phils. Concerning the shipment, the chemical shall be put to the custody of the Regional Trial Court as evidence while it is being litigated,” wrote Bautista, then concurrent head of the government-formed Task Force Princess of the Stars.
Another letter by Bautista to the group dated November 20, 2008 said “that the endosulfan is now under the custody of the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (which) has been ordered to return the endosulfan to its owner Makhteshim Chemicals Ltd.”
As confirmed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau with the EcoWaste Coalition, the endosulfan stocks are stored in the Vertical Fertilizer Chemical Corp. warehouse located in 72 Camalig Road, Meycauayan, Bulacan.
Comprising Bantay Endosulfan are the Pesticide Action Network-Philippines, Cavite Green Coalition, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Health Care Without Harm and the Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment.