29 January 2011

Civil Society Pushes Strong and Ambitious Treaty to Combat Mercury Pollution

Civil Society Pushes Strong and Ambitious Treaty to Combat Mercury Pollution (many issues impacting public’s health still to be resolved in mercury treaty talks)

Delegates from more than 120 countries, including the Philippines, discussed actions to address sources of mercury pollution as they worked this week to negotiate a binding global mercury treaty. However, many issues must still be resolved before a comprehensive agreement protecting public health and truly honoring the proposal to name the treaty, the Minamata Convention, is assured.

The meeting held in Chiba, Japan from January 24-28 marked the second intergovernmental negotiating meeting in a series of five meetings that will culminate in a diplomatic conference in 2013 to sign the treaty.

Atty. Juan Miguel Cuna, Director of the Environmental Management Bureau under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources led the three-person government delegation to the meeting.

They were also joined by civil society observers from Ban Toxics, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm and the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology-Philippines.

“Timelines for the phase-out of mercury-using manufacturing processes, clean-up of contaminated sites, and how to address the major sources of mercury emissions, such as coal combustion and small scale gold mining, all remain unresolved at this point,” said Olga Speranskaya, co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) . “We hope the delegates make significant progress on these issues at the third negotiating session which will take place in Africa, in approximately eight months.”

Big developing countries rejected proposals to address coal combustion arguing that a goal to reduce them was not needed. A few hours of discussing small scale gold mining led to larger questions about how the treaty would address both mercury and the larger livelihood and poverty issues.

The Minamata tragedy loomed over the discussions as representatives from 13 victims’ groups insisted that the unresolved disaster must be authentically addressed before the treaty could take the Minamata name in 2013.

Minamata disease sufferer, Shinobu Sakamoto, presented a statement from 13 Minamata victims and supporter groups directly to the Vice Minister of the Japanese Ministry of Environment. More than 72 public interest civil society organizations from 42 countries supported the Minamata groups’ demands in the Honoring Minamata statement. Many participants pinned orange and blue ribbons to their clothing as reminders of the tragedy.

“This week the global community made a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the victims of Minamata through INC2 mercury discussions. Symbolic gestures can only go so far. Real, immediate, and effective global actions that stop mercury pollution are the only actions that bring honor and justice to Minamata and its memory,” said Takeshi Yasuma of Citizens Against Chemicals Pollution (CACP-Japan).

"Japan knows more than any country in the world the terrible cost to life and the environment that mercury causes because of Minamata," said Atty. Richard Gutierrez of Ban Toxics. "Only a ban of Japanese mercury export can begin to give honor to Minamata's legacy."

Several negotiation topics related directly to the Minamata tragedy which was caused by a manufacturing process that produced a contaminated site in the Minamata Bay and contaminated fish. The specific process that caused the disaster (mercury-catalyzed acetaldehyde production) was left out of the list of processes that the treaty should address.

More importantly, delegates did not agree to establish any global timeline for the phase-out of any mercury-using manufacturing processes. Delegates also disagreed on measures to address contaminated sites, with many donor countries proposing only voluntary action to identify and clean-up sites which would likely disqualify the activity from the treaty financial mechanism.

Many governments repeatedly used the word “flexibility” during the week-long negotiating meeting to describe their approach to actually taking action on mercury. NGOs hope that “flexibility” – a term used by many delegates during the week-long meeting – is not simply an excuse for half-hearted measures that fail to protect human health and the environment from the serious harms of mercury.

“The mercury treaty negotiation needs government champions,” said Mariann Lloyd-Smith, IPEN co-chair. “We are looking for an ambitious approach to mercury pollution and a strong treaty whose actions will once again make fish safe to eat.”

“Governments need to step up and take more leadership in this debate”, stated Dr. Linda E. Greer of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Zero Mercury Working Group. “Mercury is a problem within our grasp to solve, but it will take political will and focus to resolve it.”

Looking forward, public interest NGOs urge delegates to effectively address all mercury emissions, not just emissions to air, and to take authentic actions to resolve the ongoing Minamata tragedy. NGOs remained committed to a comprehensive treaty that addresses all human sources of mercury so that fish are once again safe to eat.
-end-

28 January 2011

Eco Groups Support MMDA’s Call to LGUs to Enact Plastic Bags Ban

Quezon City. Pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition declared support to Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Arturo Tolentino’s call to local government units (LGUs) to enact their own ban on single-use plastic bags.

“We praise Chairman Tolentino’s eagerness to ban plastic bags and single-use plastic products similar to what Muntinlupa and other innovative LGUs have done. Phasing out these problematic materials significantly help address our garbage woes and reduce our carbon and methane emissions,” said Troy Lacsamana of the Task Force Plastics of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Tolentino last week said that he would push for the adoption of Muntinlupa plastic ban as a model ordinance that can be adopted by LGUs in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.

“The MMDA strongly encourages LGUs to adopt similar strong measures such as this to combat the dangerous effects of environmental degradation which leads to massive flooding and climate change,” said Tolentino in a statement published in the agency’s website.

The Coalition, composed of more than 100 organizations and networks, said that banning plastic bags and single-use plastic products will also be very beneficial to local government units since it will significantly reduce the volume of their municipal waste and the huge costs of managing it.

Muntinlupa City started implementing last January 18 the banning of plastic bags and Styrofoam products following the initiative of localities like Los Banos City in Laguna, Carmona in Cavite, Sta. Barbara in Iloilo and Lucban in Quezon.

Internationally, other countries are also doing away with plastic bags. Bangladesh banned single-use plastic bags in 2002. South Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania started phasing out plastic bags in 2003. Taiwan banned plastic bags in 2003, while China’s State Council implemented a nationwide ban on plastic bags in 2008. Most recently, Italy banned single-use plastic bags beginning January 1, 2011.

“Our local governments have been carrying the plastic brunt spending millions of pesos for decades in cleaning-up and de-clogging waterways and managing residual wastes while the plastic industry neglect the environmental responsibility that necessarily comes with their products,” laments Lacsamana.

According to the Coalition, banning these problematic plastic products has major climate-friendly implications since a ban reduces dependency on fossil fuel and cuts down GHGs like carbon dioxide and methane produced by landfills. Furthermore, it addresses the “throw-away” mentality promoted by plastic bags designed for single-use.

The Coalition also invites local government units to integrate the banning of plastic bags in their climate mitigation and adaptation plan and use the opportunity to promote livelihood opportunities for their constituents such as bayong or basket making out of organic, indigenous materials.

“The industry should be responsible for the massive waste they produce instead passing the burden to the government and the people. We cannot force our local governments to spend their already meager funds in collecting and finding ways to ecologically manage these problematic materials. This problem should be addressed by the producers themselves,” said Lacsamana.

27 January 2011

DepEd urged to pursue healthy school program nationwide

A non-governmental organization promoting a safe environment for children today urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to embark on a nationwide program that will promote healthy and sustainable values and practices in all schools.

The EcoWaste Coalition called upon Education Secretary Armin Luistro to consider a “National Healthy School Program” that will build on the department’s ban on junk foods.

DepEd this week conveyed its support to a recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO) to ban junk foods in schools and playgrounds to promote healthy diet and curb obesity among school-aged kids.

“While commending the ban on junk foods in schools, we urge the DepEd to go further by embarking on a holistic program that will promote a healthy school community that is conducive to well-rounded and well-balanced learning and development,” said educator Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Secretary of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“A ‘healthy school program’ will provide guidance on policies and regulations that should be put in place to create a healthful and safe school environment not only in the canteen but in the entire school setting,” she said.

“The suggested program will not start from scratch given the various health and environmental initiatives that have been undertaken by DepEd and other national agencies,” she noted.

The EcoWaste Coalition has put forward a 13-point proposal that it would like to be reflected in the suggested DepEd’s “healthy school program,” especially for preparatory, primary, elementary and secondary schools :

1.Ban junk foods as well as those containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and ensure that only safe and nutrient-rich foods are offered in schools.

2.Re-introduce vegetable gardening as regular student activity.

3.Enforce “Zero Waste” resource management, including waste prevention, reduction, recycling and composting pursuant to R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

4. Adopt "green," non-toxic procurement policy for all school purchases, especially for electronic and electrical products.

5.Ensure proper management of school-generated hazardous waste such as electronic waste like spent mercury-containing lamps and broken computers and TVs.

6.Ensure the use of only "kid-safe" chemicals and products in schools and the use of safer alternatives, including non-chemical substitutes.

7.Enforce “no smoking” policy in schools as embodied in several DepEd’s orders on controlling tobacco use among children and youth.

8.Enforce “clean air” policy in the school: no smoking, no open burning, no smoke belching vehicles and no car idling.

9. Strict use of no-lead, no-mercury paints in classrooms, playgrounds and other school facilities.

10.Eliminate use of mercury thermometers and other mercury-containing equipment in schools in line with DepEd Memorandum Circular 160-2010 reiterating DOH A.O 20-2008, the “Gradual Phase-Out of Mercury in All Philippine Health Care Facilities and Institutions.”

11.Ban use of mercury and other toxic chemicals in school laboratory and related activities.

12.Promote the use of safe school supplies consistent with DOH Memorandum Circular 118-2010, the “Health Advisory on the Selection of School Supplies and Other Products.”

13. Launch a yearly search for “Healthy Schools” to recognize and popularize successful practices in making schools safe and healthy.

A conference involving all stakeholders, including student groups, parent-teacher associations and environmental and health organizations, is essential to achieve broad unity on the scope, objectives and practical applications of the suggested “healthy school program,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“We know that there are a lot more elements of a ‘healthy school program’ that should be fleshed out to ensure a school environment that will support the physical, intellectual, mental and emotional health and well-being of all Filipino children,” Paquiz pointed out.

Aside from the EcoWaste Coalition, other groups such as the Ban Toxics, Consumer Right to Safe Food, Health Care Without Harm and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives are keen to support efforts by the education sector to create healthy and safe schools for all.

-end-

25 January 2011

10 years after passage of ecological solid waste management law, groups lament lack in its implementation

Quezon City. As the nation commemorates the 10th year anniversary of the signing into law of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 or the Republic Act (RA) 9003, green groups belonging to waste watchdog EcoWaste Coalition expressed utter dismay over the increasingly deplorable garbage situation in the country and the law’s apparent lack of implementation despite its 10 years of existence.

“In commemoration of the signing of RA 9003 on 26 January a decade ago, we earnestly pray that concerned authorities would finally come to serious terms with the mandate of the law and keep the promise of a healthy and sustainable environment that the law is supposed to achieve,” said EcoWaste Coalition President, veteran actor and zero waste activist Roy Alvarez.

“The 10 year old law apparently has not developed into maturity despite its age, considering the garbage and waste crisis the country is in today,” lamented Alvarez.

“What is very depressing is the utter lack of serious implementation of this law, as evidenced by the wanton violations of its major provisions everywhere,” he added.

Citing recent figures from the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) website, the Coalition argued that:

• Despite the law’s mandate for the closure of all open dumps by February of 2004, recent data from the NSWMC shows 790 open dumps that remain in operation.
• While all controlled dumps should have been closed by February 2006, the NSWMC data still yield 382 controlled dumps, an increase of 3 from the Commission’s 2009 data.
• There is an apparent slow progress in putting-up materials recovery facilities or MRFs, which number only 6,957 and which serve only 7,938 of the country’s more than 42,000 barangays.

The Coalition also cited as a major concern the unacceptable location of “sanitary” landfills in areas prohibited by law, and notwithstanding objections by the affected communities, such as the San Mateo landfill in Marikina, the Ternate landfill in Mt. Palay-Palay in Cavite, and the VGP landfill in San Jose del Monte.

These, together with other violations such as the continuing disregard of the “residuals only” mandate for sanitary landfills in operation, prompted the EcoWaste Coalition to request the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary, Ramon Paje, Jr., to conduct an investigation of the violations committed by landfill operators and authorities.

Moreover, the zero waste watchdog observed that explicit violations on specific prohibited acts such as littering, open burning, open dumping, construction of dumps in environmentally critical areas, and the manufacture, distribution, use or importation of non-environmentally acceptable products and services, have remained rampant and unchecked or simply ignored by those who are supposed to implement the law.

“Ten years should be enough to teach us vital lessons to learn from and to enable our waste management authorities from the national to the local level to finally let the law have its rightful way,” Alvarez maintained.

-end-

24 January 2011

Resolve Minamata before global mercury treaty named for victims

Press Release from the International POPs Elimination Network
http://www.ipen.org/
Contact: Mariann Lloyd-Smith, PhD, IPEN co-chair, +006-141-362-1557
Olga Speranskaya, PhD, IPEN co-chair, +7 916-6855-193
Takeshi Yasuma, Citizens Against Chemical Pollution, Tokyo, 080-6527-3123

Resolve Minamata before global mercury treaty named for victims
(NGOs around the world support Minamata victims’ demands for a resolution of the ongoing tragedy after 55 years)

Some 75 groups from 42 countries, including the Philippines, today signed a statement of solidarity with Minamata victims’ groups who insist that the ongoing tragedy must be properly addressed by the Government of Japan and the Chisso Corporation before the global mercury treaty can take the name the Minamata Convention in 2013.

The Honoring Minamata Statement was signed in a ceremony at the Makuhari Messe Conference Centre in Chiba, site of the current second negotiating meeting for the mercury treaty. In 2010, then Prime Minister Hatoyama proposed naming the mercury treaty, the Minamata Convention, though the proposal was not discussed with Minamata groups prior to its announcement.

Among those who endorsed the statement were environmental health and justice groups from the Philippines, including Ang NARS, Arugaan, Ban Toxics, Cavite Green Coalition, Citizens Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Mother Earth Foundation, and Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan.

“We call on the Government of Japan to make a public commitment to resolving the tragedy and to take concrete steps toward a genuine resolution of the tragedy before the treaty is finalized in 2013,” said Mariann Lloyd-Smith, IPEN co-chair. “After 55 years of struggling, we stand in solidarity with the Minamata victims’ groups in calling for a genuine resolution of the problem.”

“Naming the global mercury control treaty the Minamata Convention directly connects the treaty to the tragedy,” said Olga Speranskaya, IPEN co-chair. “If the treaty has this name, then the victims and their legitimate demands must be honored and the lessons of the Minamata tragedy must be applied to the treaty.”

The resolution followed a statement yesterday by the Minamata victims and supporter groups in opposition to naming the international treaty for the Minamata disaster before victims’ issues were resolved. Specifically, the groups called for:

-Clarity on the full extent of the disaster
-Compensation for all victims
-Implementation of the “Polluter Pays” Principle
-Full clean up mercury contamination in Minamata Bay and Shiranui Sea

Minamata disease is a serious and often deadly illness caused by exposure to methylmercury. It is named after Minamata Bay in Kumamoto Prefecture where the first outbreak of this disease occurred due to fish contaminated with methylmercury. Over the years, more victims have come to light and now tens of thousands of people have reported being stricken with the disease.

The methylmercury entered the Bay from the wastewater discharges of a plant owned by the Chisso Corporation. The plant produced the chemical acetaldehyde using a mercury catalyzed process. Although the disease was first diagnosed in 1959, the Chisso Corporation plant continued discharging methylmercury into the Bay through 1968.

Despite a public apology by Japanese Prime Minster Yukio Hatoyama in 2010 and a 2004 ruling by the Supreme Court of Japan that the Government of Japan and the Kumamoto
Prefecture were responsible for not preventing the spread of the disease after 1960, the vast majority of victims remain unrecognized and uncompensated.

In 2009, the Government of Japan enacted the Minamata Disease Victim Relief Law, which law allowed the Chisso Corporation to split into two companies to enable it to limit its
Minamata disease liabilities.

In 2010, when he apologized to Minamata residents, Japanese Prime Minster Yukio Hatoyama expressed the hope that Japan would actively contribute to creating an international treaty for
preventing future mercury poisoning and proposed naming the treaty the Minamata
Convention.

A representative of the Government of Japan then formally proposed naming the global mercury control at the First Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee Meeting to prepare a global
legally binding instrument on mercury was held in Stockholm, Sweden in 2010.

The proposal to name the treaty for the Minamata victims had never been discussed with Minamata victims’ groups prior to its announcement.
-end-

For background information on mercury, please see
"An NGO Introduction to Mercury Pollution" at http://www.ipen.org/ipenweb/documents/book/ipen%20mercury%20booklet_s.pdf

The International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) is a global public interest NGO network with more than 700 Participating Organizations in 100 countries in all regions. IPEN Participating Organizations in many countries and in all regions collaborated to advance the common goal of creating a strong and effective global POPs treaty. IPEN now works with NGOs at regional, national, district and community levels in support of POPs elimination efforts at a step toward a future world where toxic chemicals no longer cause harm to human health or to the environment.

19 January 2011

New COMELEC Chief Asked to Pursue Green Electoral Reforms

Amid a flurry of opinions regarding his appointment as Chairman of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), environmental advocates today pose another challenge to lawyer Sixto Brillantes, Jr.: “green” the elections.

“In view of his promise to carry out massive reforms within the commission, we urge Chairman Brillantes to equally introduce changes that will ‘green’ and cut the wastefulness in future polls,” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

In a letter sent to the COMELEC headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, groups belonging to the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog, expressed hope that a re-organized poll body under Chairman Brillantes will work for both the political rights, as well as the environmental rights, of the Filipino people.

The letter was signed by environmental leaders from the Alaga Lahat, Angkan ng Mandirigma, Ang NARS, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Citizens Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Miriam PEACE, Mother Earth Foundation, November 17 Movement, Philippine Earth Justice Center and Zero Waste Philippines.

“We hope that the COMELEC, under your watch, will exercise effective leadership to protect not only the sanctity of the ballot, but also safeguard the environment from further degradation associated with political activities,” the groups wrote to Brillantes..

Reckless political activities that waste resources and pollute the surroundings have to go, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“Our monitoring of the 2007 and 2010 elections shows blatant breach of electoral as well as health and environmental regulations traceable to the failure of COMELEC, national agencies and local government units (LGUs) from enforcing existing electoral and environmental laws,” the groups recounted.

Some of the typical environmental lapses that have occurred in past elections, include:

- the uncontrolled plastering of campaign posters outside COMELEC-designated areas, most notoriously on trees, electric posts and walls

-the hanging of campaign flaglets, lanterns and streamers in streets and alleys;

-the display of “indirect” campaign-related banners such as graduation and fiesta “greetings” and announcements extolling the projects and achievements of politicians;

-the unregulated noise from mobile political propaganda and during campaign meetings;

-the rampant distribution and littering of sample ballots on election day;

-the open burning of campaign waste, a habit which COMELEC offices even practice,
despite the ban on burning under RA 9003; and

-the failure to immediately remove campaign materials after the election period.

The groups also called attention to the failure of the COMELEC to promulgate the Implementing Rules and Regulations for sectoral representation at local legislative bodies as required by the Constitution and R.A. 7160, the Local Government Code

“We hope that in 2013 elections, the mandate for sectoral representation for local lawmaking bodies will finally be made,” the groups emphasized.

“Under the new COMELEC leadership, a truly participatory governance where sectoral representatives are elected by the constituents, will become a reality. The marginal sectors are, in fact, the worst victims of the ecological crisis and need stronger voice in the local lawmaking councils,” they said.

The groups provided Chairman Brillantes with a list of recommendations, which, if implemented, will “lead to an environmentally-responsible exercise of the people’s right of suffrage and authentic participatory governance through sectoral representation.”

The list includes proposals for the COMELEC to:

a. adopt a resolution declaring Zero Waste as a policy to effectively reduce trash in all future electoral exercises.

b. create a unit, ideally led by the Chairman or one of his Commissioners, to take charge in “greening” the elections and no-nonsense enforcement of laws, in partnership with stakeholders.

c. require all individuals and groups running for election to sign a Memorandum of Agreement stipulating the obligation of candidates to comply with lawful and environmentally-friendly campaign practices, including a mandatory post-campaign clean up.

d. incorporate environmental responsibility in its public information drive for clean, orderly, peaceful, honest and fair elections.

e. impose a ban on campaign materials that are hardly reused or recycled and are habitually littered or burned in violation of R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and related local ordinances.

f. ensure full compliance to the ban on open burning, particularly of campaign posters and banners removed during clean up operations.

g. regulate campaign motorcades, if not impose an outright ban, to address our rising problems with traffic congestion, air pollution and climate change, especially in urban centers such as Metro Manila.

h. set regulations, in coordination with the Department of Health, on poll campaign noise.

i. adopt and popularize practical guidelines to assist political parties, party-list groups and candidates in preventing and reducing their campaign waste.

The EcoWaste Coalition reaffirmed its readiness to collaborate with the COMELEC in the effort to “green” the elections that will require the input and participation of all sectors.

The network’s lawyer volunteers also offered their assistance in drafting the IRR for the much-sought sectoral representation in local lawmaking bodies.

-end-

16 January 2011

Poisonous Goods Sold Outside the Santo Niño de Tondo Church

Ambulant vendors sell unlabelled and unregistered silver jewelry cleaners for P25 for big and P15 for small bottles in Ylaya Street, a stone’s throw away from the Santo Niño de Tondo Church in Manila. Ylaya Street became “famous” last year when a thirsty two-year old boy, Manny Bacani, died due to the accidental ingestion of the poisonous cleaning solution on December 15 while his parents were busy buying silver accessories from a shop along the lane.

15 January 2011

EcoWaste Coalition calls for all-out support to Muntinlupa plastic ban to cut littering and flooding woes

An environmental watchdog appealed to Muntinlupa City businesses and citizens to actively back the ban on plastic bags and other plastic disposables that will kick in next week.

City Ordinance 10-109 will take effect on January 18 after a year-long wait to give stakeholders, including consumers and commercial establishments, ample time to adjust and conform.

“The Muntinlupa plastic ban offers a beacon of hope for our beleaguered environment that has long been suffering from white pollution,” said veteran actor Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“White pollution pertains to the notorious litter caused by the unimpeded use and disposal of plastic materials such as polyethylene bags and polystyrene containers,” he explained.

Alvarez said the plastic ban is in accord with Muntinlupa’s mission “to carry out an efficient system for environmental protection and waste management” as he congratulated Mayor Aldrin San Pedro for refusing to budge to industry pressure to defer its implementation.

“By insisting to enforce the ban, Muntinlupa will become an environmental leader among local government units (LGUs) with this bold measure to reduce plastic litter and promote ecological values,” he emphasized.

City authorities through the Environmental Sanitation Center have put up posters, billboards and banners all over the city to inform and enjoin the general public to comply with the ban.

They have also complemented the ban with a “Bring Your Own Bag/Bayong (BYOB) campaign and supported the production of reusable bags made of cloth and indigenous materials as substitutes to plastic bags.

For her part, Sonia Mendoza of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Task Force on Plastics said that “the first citywide plastic ban in Metro Manila has the potential of triggering a domino effect among LGUs who are similarly struggling to find sustainable solutions to persistent garbage and flooding woes.”

“We should give all-out support to Muntinlupa’s effort to protect and nurture the environment,” added Mendoza whose group, the Mother Earth Foundation, represents the civil society in the Metro Manila Solid Waste Management Board.

Under the said ordinance, business establishments are prohibited from using, offering or selling plastic bags as primary or secondary packing materials for dry goods, as well as for wet goods such as fish, meat and poultry.

The ordinance further bans polystyrene containers, commonly known as “Styro,” for foodstuffs, drinks and other goods.

According to Section 15 of City Ordinance 10-109, violators shall be fined P500, P1,000 and P2,500 for the first, second and third offenses or imprisonment of not more than six months at the discretion of the court.

Business establishments found violating the law face the risk of having their licenses to operate cancelled for up to one year.

Mayor San Pedro had earlier said that “plastic bags and styrofoam materials are major contributors to the clogging of waterways in Metro Manila, which in turn cause flooding.”

Citing information from the city’s engineering department, San Pedro said that 90 percent of materials found obstructing storm drains and waterways are plastic discards, costing the city government P2.3 million for de-clogging operations in 2009.

The destructive Ondoy floods in 2009 prompted the city government to adopt further environmental measures such as the plastic ban that would keep Muntinlupa’s 11 rivers and three creeks that drain into the Laguna de Bay garbage free.

At the height of typhoon Ondoy, the lake overflowed, flooding the city’s barangays, which all sit along the lake except for one barangay, and causing the evacuation of over 3,500 families.

“Through this ordinance, we want to encourage business owners and the public to protect the environment by not using these materials,” the Mayor said.

-end-

For more information about the vision and mission of Muntinlupa City and City Ordinance 10-109, please visit:

http://www.muntinlupacity.gov.ph/v2/index.php

12 January 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Seeks Mayor Lim's Action to Stop the Proliferation of Thin-Film Plastic Bag Fiesta Buntings


Environmental advocates today asked Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim to advise community leaders against the use of wasteful plastic banderitas (buntings) as excited residents of Pandacan and Tondo districts get ready for the upcoming feast of Santo Niño this weekend.

The EcoWaste Coalition sought Mayor Lim’s intervention as various barangays and neighborhood associations started decorating streets and alleys with plastic buntings in celebration of the popular feast of Santo Niño de Pandacan and the Santo Niño de Tondo.

“The imprudent use of new thin-film plastic bags as fiesta buntings, which are surely doomed to the dumpsite after the festivities, is not acceptable amid the garbage and climate woes that the nation are trying to come to grips with,” stated Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“The application of these disposable bags as buntings represents a very short-lived, superficial and non-essential use of plastic bags, which, while sold cheaply, require lots of raw materials and fuels to manufacture and trade,” he continued.

“It is simply not sustainable to be spending for disposable decors that we know would add to the city’s waste problem and to environmental pollution not only in places where the buntings are hanged, but also in distant communities where these are later dumped or burned,” he emphasized.

“We therefore appeal to Mayor Lim, Vice Mayor Moreno and other city officials to intervene, support and echo our environmental appeal to their constituents for a greener fiesta,” said Alvarez.

“If Manila will initiate measures to control and eliminate wasteful fiesta habits, we are certain that the entire country will take notice and follow suit,” he added.

To drive their point, the EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrol visited Pandacan yesterday afternoon and went home with mind-boggling figures regarding the colorful thin-film plastic bags that are now crisscrossing Pandacan streets.

Residents told the group’s Basura Patroller that some 55,000 pieces of red thin-film bags were used up to decorate a portion of Narciso St. in Barangay 848, Zone 92, which has an approximate length of less than 500 meters only.

In Barangay 833, Zone 91, some 15,000 pieces were consumed in Pandacan and Talundon Sts., according to Kagawad Rez Cabunilas.

Kagawad Violeta Casidsid and Luzviminda Armobit reported that some 15,000 pieces were used in Adolfo St. and another 16,000 pieces in Laura St., both in Barangay 862, Zone 94.

As per Barangay 862 officials, the thin-film plastic bags cost P56/1,000 pieces. On top of this, they also have to spend for at least 2 rolls of plastic rope per street at P50/roll and also for “alambre” at P75/kilo.

While expressing concern over the wild use of plastic bags as buntings, the EcoWaste Coalition commended the Santo Niño de Pandacan Parish for the smart use of reusable cloth decorations that are adorning the church patio.

Long-time parish maintenance staff Boy Acosta told the Basura Patroller that the multi-color cloth-based decors have been used since 2005.

In lieu of single-use buntings made of plastic bags, packaging scraps and product advertisements, the EcoWaste Coalition suggests the use of eco-friendly substitutes that can washed, stored and reused over and over again, or not to use any buntings at all if these are not reusable.

Also, the group requested politicos to refrain from putting up “happy fiesta” banners on streets, electric posts and trees, stressing that such banners only add to street clutter and have become environmental nuisances.

Resources spent for wasteful buntings and banners are better used for pre- and post-fiesta community cleanup activities, the EcoWaste Coalition said.


-end-

11 January 2011

Toxic watchdog slams continued sale of banned poison cleaner in Quiapo


A toxic watchdog campaigning for public safety against harmful chemicals today decried the blatant retailing of deadly silver jewelry cleaning agents in Quiapo, Manila despite a standing ban against their sale.

The EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol this morning combed jewelry and fashion accessory shops in the area to test if a recent government directive reiterating the ban on silver jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and other toxic substances is being followed or not.

"Our store hopping reveals the grim truth about the unrelenting sale of this toxicant that has already poisoned so many people. We therefore urge the government to vigilantly enforce the ban in the interest of public health and safety,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project PROTECT (People Responding and Organizing against Toxic Chemical Threats).

In random test buys by the group’s AlerToxic Patrollers, volunteers were able to buy unregistered and/or unlabelled silver cleaning products from P25 to P60 in 10 out of 15 shops located in Carriedo and Villalobos Streets. Seven of the 10 stores issued receipts as proofs of purchase.

Last January 3, Undersecretary of Health Mario Villaverde issued Department Memorandum 2011-004 reiterating a joint advisory by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) banning the poisonous cleaning solution.

The government had to reiterate the ban due to four reported cases of unintentional as well as suicidal ingestion of silver jewelry cleaners last December.

The DOH and the DENR released a joint advisory in September 2010 in response to the clamor to halt the mounting cases of chemical poisoning attributed to both the accidental and non-accidental intake of the toxic solution by child and adult victims.

Silver jewelry cleaners, according to the UP National Poison Management and Control Center and the East Avenue Medical Center Poison Control Unit, is one of the top three toxicants among patients admitted for the past two years.

“Laboratory analysis of samples of silver cleaners show elevated levels of cyanide clearly posing imminent danger or even death to humans,” the DOH and DENR joint advisory said.

“All commercial establishments such as jewelry shops and other retail outlets and ambulant vendors are strongly warned against selling and/or dispensing unregistered and unlabeled silver cleaners,” the joint advisory said.

Those found violating the ban will be prosecuted under DOH Administrative Order 312 on “Household Hazardous Substances” and the DENR Administrative Order 97-39 on the “Chemical Control Order for Cyanide and Cyanide Compounds.”

The DOH-DENR advisory further urged the public to call the Food and Drug Administration at telephone number 8078275 for any information that may lead to the arrest of importers, manufacturers, distributors and sellers of banned silver cleaners.

Since the improper disposal of cyanide-laced silver cleaners can endanger aquatic life, the DOH and the DENR advised individuals and entities to surrender unregistered and unlabeled silver cleaning agents in their possession to the nearest office of the DENR-EMB or the DOH-FDA or their corresponding regional offices.

-end-

Useful documents:

Department Memorandum 2011-004, January 2011.

Joint DOH-DENR Advisory on “Ban on Silver Cleaning Solution Containing
Cyanide and other Toxic Substances,” September 2010:
http://www.doh.gov.ph/files/doh_denr_advisory.pdf

DOH Health Advisory on Silver Jewelry Cleaners,” July 2010:
http://www.doh.gov.ph/files/dm2010-0159.pdf

10 January 2011

Black Nazarene Devotees Urged: 'Next time, please try not to litter"


“Next time, please try not to litter.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, a group campaigning for a “litter-free Pilipinas,” made this plea following the “trashing” of Luneta and Quiapo in the city of Manila in the aftermath of the huge Black Nazarene feast yesterday.

“We again witnessed a breathtaking manifestation of Filipino people’s spirituality and we salute the devotees for their pious conviction. Unhappily, the mass veneration of the Black Nazarene has yet to transform into a more caring bond with the environment as evidenced by the pervasive littering during the feast, ” said Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Next time, please try not to litter for a more fitting affirmation of our faith,” he appealed to the devotees.

For her part, Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission and whose family owns a century-plus-old Santo Entierro (the Dead Christ), conveyed her hope that “our passionate devotion to the Black Nazarene would soon be matched with a shared commitment to work for a clean and safe environment for all.”

EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrollers lamented seeing garbage piles as countless believers flocked to Rizal Park and to Quiapo Church to pay respect to the Black Nazarene and present their petitions for good health and fortune as well as prayers for the good of the country.

In Rizal Park, the 10-hectare open field facing the Quirino Grandstand became a virtual dumpsite of garbage left by the devotees who attended an overnight vigil and a huge Mass that preceded the gruelling over 16-hour procession to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo.

In Quiapo, the garbage situation was worst as many residents, visitors and hawkers threw away unwanted stuff all over the area, including polystyrene food containers or what many call as “Styrofoam” that were given by good Samaritans to tired and hungry devotees.

In Carlos Palanca St., for example, Basura Patrollers were dismayed to find discards disposed of in street gutters that were already holding water due to a buildup of garbage and sludge.

In Plaza Miranda, 12 volunteers from the EcoWaste Coalition, armed with broomsticks and rakes, cleared the open space of mixed discards that created some 15 garbage mounds around the area, which were later removed by haulers.

On their way home after the cleanup, the Basura Patrollers saw the stretch of Quezon Blvd., including Quezon Bridge and the side streets, littered with mostly white garbage such as discarded plastic bags and Styrofoam food containers.

“From afar, the streets, particularly the street corners and gutters, appear to be white due to a snowstorm that pounded Quiapo,” a Basura Patroller quipped.

According to city government data, garbage collection in the Quiapo area rises to 36 tons per day during the two-day fiesta period of which 85 percent are reportedly biodegradable like food leftovers and kitchen scraps.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that next year’s feast would see the Black Nazarene devotees showing the highest concern and care for the environment that all Filipinos can extol and learn from,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.

-end-

09 January 2011

"Trashing" at the Black Nazarene Feast







EcoWaste Coalition lauds waste pickers for recycling trash left by Black Nazarene devotees in Luneta







(Photos by Manny C. Calonzo)

A waste and pollution watchdog today cited the waste pickers for their effort to recycle discards left by Black Nazarene devotees following the overnight vigil and Eucharistic celebration this morning at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta.

While saddened by the widespread littering that practically turned Luneta’s open field into a dumping ground, the EcoWaste Coalition lauded some 20 waste pickers who patiently reclaimed recyclable items from the garbage that nearly blanketed the area.

“Soon after the Black Nazarene procession left the Quirino Grandstand, we saw the open field littered with mixed biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials that waste pickers foraged through to retrieve recyclables,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrol.

“We commend the waste pickers for their enterprising perseverance, which prevented valuable resources from being wasted,” he continued.

Some of the discards found scattered all over the field were food leftovers, polystyrene beverage cups and clam shell food containers, plastic bottles, plastic bags, snack wrappers, soiled carton boxes and newspapers, empty sardine cans and even used infant disposable diapers.

“Let’s get real. Our prayerful devotion to the Black Nazarene should be complemented with the highest respect for God’s creation and not by dropping litter anywhere,” commented Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, upon learning of the “trashing” of Luneta.

Among the waste pickers that the EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrol spoke to was 24-year old “Kuya Liit” from Smokey Mountain in Tondo, Manila who led a team of 7 people in retrieving recyclables that would sell for over P2,000.

Another waste picker Melchor Lumanog, age 52, worked with two other people in collecting used plastic bottles with an expected total value of P300.

Mac-Mac Lopez, age 12, from the Baseco compound, was seen gathering used boxes that would sell for five pesos per kilo.

Information given by the waste pickers to the EcoWaste Coalition’s Basura Patrol shows that polyethylene (PET) bottles sell from P22-32/kilo, plastic cups, noodle containers and covers P15/kilo, plastic cutlery P15/kilo, tin cans P6/kilo and carton boxes P5/kilo.

Citing information supplied by Joe Atentar, a supervisor under the National Park Development Committee (NPDC), the EcoWaste Coalition reported that some 200-250 garbage bags would be collected from phases 1 and 2 of Rizal Park, which includes the open field.

Atentar also told the EcoWaste Coalition that some 500 garbage bags were collected in his area of jurisdiction (i.e., Rizal Park’s phases 1 and 2) during the Christmas holidays, specifically on December 24, 25, 26, 30 and 31, 2010 and on January 1, 2011.

Aside from thanking the waste pickers, the EcoWaste Coalition also expressed gratitude to the Nazarene Catholic School, Manila's Department of Public Services, the NPDC and several concerned vendors for picking up the trash and sweeping the park clean.

-end-

07 January 2011

Bishop Weighs In on Drive vs Garbage during the Black Nazarene Feast


A leader of the Catholic Church has amplified the rising call to make the upcoming feast of the Black Nazarene garbage-free with his own plea for environmental responsibility as the spectacular display of Filipino devotion draws closer.

Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr. of the Diocese of Kalookan added his voice to the request aired by the environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition for the general public to be mindful of their trash so as to keep the Quiapo surroundings clean during the mammoth fiesta.

“Our age-old devotion to the Black Nazarene should translate to a kinder relationship with the environment on which we live and which provides sustenance to all Filipinos, rich and poor, and to other living creatures,” he said.

“As stewards of His Creation, we are morally responsible to watch over and foster the environment,” he continued.

“As Nazarene devotees, let us strive to follow the path of Jesus and integrate our respect for the environment with our eternal devotion to His divine grace,” he added.

“I therefore join the EcoWaste Coalition in appealing to the faithful to minimize the creation of garbage in Quiapo as well as in our homes and communities, which we entrust to the healing hands of the Black Nazarene,” Bishop Iñiguez stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the supportive statement from the bishop who is also the concurrent head of the Public Affairs Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

“Indeed, our pious devotion to the Black Nazarene should not in any way trash or harm the environment,” noted Roy Alvarez, President of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Knowing Metro Manila’s persistent problem with garbage and pollution, it does really make sense for all human activities, especially faith-centered events, to consciously seek to prevent all forms of wastefulness,” he pointed out.

“We are counting on the maroon-clad devotees of the Black Nazarene to become green defenders of the environment,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez yesterday led a team of environmental advocates who quietly assembled in front of the Quiapo Church to remind the devotees to work for a clean and safe fiesta.

-end-




06 January 2011

Environmentalists Stage "Silent Action" in Quiapo to Promote Clean and Safe Black Nazarene Feast




A waste and pollution watchdog has stepped up its drive for a clean and safe celebration as the 404th feast of the Black Nazarene this weekend gets nearer.

EcoWaste Coalition’s volunteers in maroon and yellow shirts today staged a "silent action" in front of the historic Quiapo Church where the Black Nazarene is enshrined to request the devotees to commit to a garbage-free fiesta.

Led by actor Roy Alvarez, president of the environmental watchdog, who was holding a miniature image of the Black Nazarene, they quietly campaigned for a clean and safe fiesta as stated in their placards.

“We have gathered here today in silence in the hope that our plea for an ecological feast of the Black Nazarene will be heard and heeded by all caring citizens,” said Alvarez.

“We strongly believe that the faithful, led by the Hijos del Nazareno, can reverse the deluge of garbage that has been messing up the mammoth celebration,” he continued.

“Together, let us honor the Black Nazarene to whom we pray for cleansing and healing by keeping Quiapo and the entire country safe from pernicious trash,” he added.

Among the groups who took part in the “silent action” were the Alaga Lahat, Ang Nars, Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives and the Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkod ng Inang Kalikasan.

Citing information it obtained from Manila’s Department of Public Services (DPS)-Operation Division, the EcoWaste Coalition lamented that garbage generation in Quiapo area rises from 18 tons to 36 tons per day or 72 tons during the two-day fiesta period on January 8 and 9 of which 80-85% are biodegradable discards.

“The waste data from DPS tell us that the biggest chunk of fiesta garbage is comprised of organic discards that can be fed to animals or composted to produce soil conditioner or fertilizer,” noted Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

‘By segregating the biodegradable from the non-biodegradable discards and turning them into animal food or compost, we avoid creating filthy mounds of mixed garbage in Quiapo and elsewhere,” she pointed out.

Biodegradable discards include kitchen scraps, food leftovers, soiled paper, plant and other organic matters.

To address the anticipated fiesta garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition has appealed to various sectors to get involved in practical waste minimization efforts.

For the Parish: 1) plug waste prevention and reduction reminders before and after every Mass; and 2) involve all the 30 parish-based organizations for a parish-wide campaign to green the Black Nazarene feast.

For food and beverage givers: 1) pack meals in biodegradable packaging such as banana leaves and paper or serve meals, as well as drinks, in reusable containers; and 2) collect all food leftovers for “kaning baboy.”

For vendors: 1) refrain from using single-use disposable containers; 2) bring your own “sako” for your discards; and 3) make a final sweep of your vending area before you leave.

For the devotees: 1) refrain from smoking to avoid butt litter; 2) if you smoke, please don’t toss butts on the ground; 3) if you chew gum, do put it in a bin after you’re done with it; 4) do not spit on walls and other spots; 5) do not urinate on the streets, 6) return used food and beverage containers, including bamboo skewers, to the vendors; 7) put your discards into the designated bins; and 9) bring a reusable bag if you are planning to buy some “pasalubong” from Quiapo.

For the barangay and city authorities: 1) provide and maintain more portable toilets for the convenience of the devotees; 2) place trash sacks in littering hotspots; and 3) enforce national and city regulations against littering.

-end-

05 January 2011

EcoWaste Coalition Calls for Water Conservation as Water in Angat Dam Dips

An environmental watchdog has joined the mounting call for water conservation as the water level in Angat Dam continues to plummet due to the lack of rains.

The EcoWaste Coalition urged Metro Manila water users to watch and cut their water consumption after the Angat River Hydro Electric Power Plant (ARHEPP) announced last Monday a drop of the water level to 203.25 meters above sea level (masl), which is several meters below the normal elevation of 210-214 masl.

Angat Dam's decreasing water level prompted Engr. Rodolfo German, ARHEPP General Manager, to advise water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad Water Services to urge their customers to conserve water.

ARHEPP’s announcement was followed by a warning last Tuesday by the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) of possible water shortage in Metro Manila beginning April due to the declining water level in the reservoir that supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s domestic water supply.

“While we hope that the rains will come soon and fill the dam before the intense summer months, Metro consumers this early should start saving water and make it a practice all year-round,” said recycling advocate Ofelia Panganiban of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“By using water, a shared resource, carefully and sparingly, we avoid wastage and help ensure that our people’s water requirements are complied with,” she stressed.

In view of the looming water shortage, the EcoWaste Coalition has issued a set of “Water Tipid Tips” to guide consumers in reducing their water consumption.

“We hope that water consumers will find our conservation tips of use as we brace for a potential water crisis like what we went through last year,” Panganiban said.

Topping the list of 20 practical water saving tips is the commonsensical fixing of leaky pipes, faucets and tanks. A trickle from a tattered faucet washer, for example, can waste some 20 gallons of water per day.

Other suggestions include collecting and reusing grey water from the kitchen, bathroom and laundry place, taking shorter showers, organizing laundry schedule, using broomstick in lieu of water hose to clean the driveway, not letting the water run while brushing teeth, and harvesting rainwater through the gutter.

WATER TIPID TIPS:

1. Check and repair faucet and pipes for leaks.

2. Replace worn out sapatilya (washers) without delay.

3. Use timba (pail) and tabo (dip) when taking a bath and use just enough water; take shorter showers.

4. Keep a bucket in the bathroom and laundry area for the grey water that can be used to flush the toilet, clean the laundry area and car port or dampen dusty road.

5. Place a brick, a jug with stones or a bottle filled with water inside the toilet tank to cut on water used in every flush.

6. Avoid flushing the toilet unnecessarily, and put discarded tissues in the bin rather than in the toilet bowl.

7. Don‘t let the water run while you brush your teeth, shave, or wash your face and hands. Just wet your toothbrush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.

8. Collect water dripping from air conditioners and use it in washing mops, watering the plants or flushing the toilet.

9. Organize your laundry schedule and wait until you have a full load before you use the washing machine.

10. Use laundry water for cleaning used bottles, cans and other recyclables, blinds, rugs, doormats, and car wheels.

11. Do not hose down your driveway or footpath. Use the walis tingting (broomstick) to sweep the place clean.

12. Wash fruits and vegetables in a palanggana (pan) instead of running water from the tap; reuse the water for watering the plants.

13. Do not throw rice wash (hugas-bigas) down the drain; use it for washing dishes or watering plants.

14. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator overnight, not on running water.

15. Use fewer cooking and dining utensils and dishes to cut down on the water needed for dishwashing.

16. Do not let the water run when washing the dishes, and collect the grey water for other purposes.

17. Never waste water served during meals; drink it up!

18. Harvest rainwater through the alulod (gutter) and use the water collected for your essential needs.

19. Water the plants after 5:00 p.m. when temperature is cooler to minimize evaporation and water them only when necessary.

20. Spread a layer of mulch around plants and trees to retain water and reduce evaporation.

-end-

03 January 2011

Black Nazarene Devotees Asked to Observe “Traslacion” sans Trash


A Zero Waste advocacy group today urged devotees of the hugely venerated Black Nazarene to commemorate the annual “Traslacion” with ample respect and care for public health and the environment.

Next Sunday, January 9, millions are expected to join in the re-enactment of “Traslacion,” or the transfer of the image of the Black Nazarene from Luneta (the old Bagumbayan) to Quiapo in 1787.

In a letter sent to Msgr. Jose Clemente Ignacio, Parish Priest and Rector of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, the EcoWaste Coalition pleaded for a garbage-free celebration befitting the solemn occasion.

“We appeal to you and all the devotees of the Nuestro Padre Hesus Nazareno to unite in ensuring that the splendid affirmation of our Christian faith will also mirror our shared mission of caring for the environment,” wrote Roy Alvarez, president of the waste and pollution watchdog.

“We hope this year’s 'Traslacion' will see the devotees from Metro Manila and afar fulfilling their spiritual vows in a way that will not aggravate the waste and sanitation problems in the Quiapo district,” he stated.

“Please take personal responsibility for your discards,” he told the devotees. “With your help, we can turn the tide of garbage that has been spoiling this great communion of the faithful.”

To remind the devotees to care for Mother Earth as God does, the EcoWaste Coalition in cooperation with local barangay leaders will hang banners near and around Plaza Miranda asking the public to prevent and reduce fiesta garbage.

The past celebrations of “Traslacion,” observed the EcoWaste Coalition, have been blighted by massive wastefulness that has nothing to do with our people’s longstanding piety towards the Black Nazarene.

“We have seen streets traversed by the grand procession carpeted with various trash as if national and city laws against littering do not matter during the mammoth religious event,” Alvarez lamented.

“The massive littering tarnishes our devoutness to the Black Nazarene that many of us beg for deliverance from life’s problems, including ailments that could have come from a polluted environment,” he continued.

A cleaner and safer “Traslacion,” the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, fits well the theme of this year’s celebration: “Yapak ng Poong Nazareno, Yakap ng Sambayanan sa Pagbabagong Buhay.”

“Our devotion to the Black Nazarene requires care and respect for His Creation,” Alvarez said.
“It also matches the bishops’ call for ecological stewardship and conversion,” he added.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued in 2008 a pastoral letter on ecology entitled “Uphold the Sanctity of Life”, which, among others, urged the faithful "to protect creation" and "to eliminate wasteful consumption.”

For improved waste and sanitation management, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the devotees to observe the following reminders:

1. Refrain from smoking, or better still quit for keeps, to avoid butt litter and serious tobacco-related diseases that kill 10 Filipinos every hour. You also protect other people from getting sick by not exposing them to toxins from secondhand smoke.

2. If you smoke, please don’t toss butts on the ground. Cigarette filters are non-biodegradable and they contain toxic chemicals that can leach into the environment.

3. If you chew gum, do put it in a bin after you’re done with it. If there is no bin close by, put the spent chewing gum back into the wrapper and wait until you see a bin. Don’t let barefoot devotees step on your chewing gum waste.

4. Please don’t spit on walls, sidewalks and streets. Spitting in public presents a serious health risk, especially to children who are more prone to disease-causing germs and bacteria.

5. Please do not urinate on the street. Urinating in public is unhygienic and poses social, health and environmental problems.

6. Return used food and beverage containers to the vendors and do not litter them anywhere. The plastic bag for the thirst-quenching “palamig,” for example, can clog the storm drains and later cause flooding in Quiapo.

7. Give back to the vendors used bamboo skewers for barbecue, grilled corn-on-the-cob, fried banana, fishball and kikiam as devotees can accidentally step on thoughtlessly thrown sticks and cause foot injuries.

8. Put your discards into the designated bins. Quiapo (and the whole country for that matter) is NOT a dumpsite. Let us keep the shrine of the Black Nazarene, including the route of the procession, litter-free.

9. If you are planning to bring home something for the kids, reduce plastic waste by bringing a reusable carry bag with you for the fruits, “kakanin” and other “pasalubong” that are plentiful in Quiapo.

-end-