29 June 2012

Government Urged to Implement Zero Waste to Combat Child Labor in Waste Sector

“A child’s place is in school, not in streets, dumps or sweatshops.”

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental group promoting ecological and socially inclusive Zero Waste resource management, stressed this point as it bewailed the huge number of Filipino children toiling in unhealthy and dangerous jobs, including waste picking.

Data from the 2011 Survey on Children by the National Statistics Office (NSO) showed that 5.59 million children aged 5 to 17-year old were already working and of which 2.993 million were engaged in hazardous labor.

“We are appalled by this outrageous number of working children in the country who are deprived of their rights to education, health and safety,” said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“While it is hard to ascertain how many of the 5.59 million child laborers toil as waste pickers and reclaimers, there is no question that what they do is fraught with real danger,” she said.

“Children who pick up recyclables from garbage bins, trucks and dumps or recover metals from e-waste and other hazardous discards are constantly at risk of being exposed or harmed by sharp objects, pathogens, toxic chemicals and mixtures,” Vergara explained.

The poor implementation of waste segregation as required under R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, aggravates the health and physical hazards of foraging through mixed and contaminated garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out.

“The government should faithfully and effectively enforce the ecological waste management system already enshrined in law, which will translate to better working conditions and livelihood options for the informal waste sector and their families,” Von Hernandez, President, EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

“The current waste dumping approach exacerbates the problem of child labor in the country and should be rectified. Children should be in school and not working in dangerous, life-threatening conditions in streets, dumps and sweatshops," he stated.

"The deadly garbage slides in Payatas and other dumpsites, which have claimed numerous lives, will happen again and again unless we move away from the current wasting and dumping approaches," Hernandez said.

The results of the 2011 NSO Survey on Children should prompt the government into implementing the “National Framework Plan for the Informal Waste Sector in Solid Waste Management” that was completed in 2009, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

The said Framework envisions “an empowered informal waste sector that is recognized as a partner of the public and private institutions, organizations and corporations in the promotion and implementation of the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) with the end in view of alleviating poverty.”

By implementing the Framework, efforts will be carried out “to integrate the informal waste sector in solid waste management system by providing them with a favorable policy environment, skills development and access to a secured livelihood, employment and social services.”


26 June 2012

Toxics Activists Take to the Streets to Campaign against Mercury Pollution

Rain-drenched members of the EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrol today swept through Quiapo, Santa Cruz and Binondo districts in Manila for a timely event dubbed as the “e-Jeep Toxics Tour vs. Mercury Pollution.”

The anti-toxic activists paraded through the busy commercial area by foot and in two electric-powered jeepneys or “e-Jeep” to increase public awareness and vigilance against exposure to mercury, a toxic substance of global concern, in processes, products and wastes.

The event came on the heels of two infamous product safety scandals last week involving the EcoWaste Coalition’s discovery of mercury up to 60,800 parts per million in 13 skin whitening products bought from Chinese drug stores and cosmetics retailers in Manila and Makati, and the recall in China of mercury-tainted Quan You milk products.

It was also held on the eve of the fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC4) on June 27 to July 2 in Uruguay for the crafting a globally-binding agreement that will protect public health and the environment from mercury pollution.

“We are here to inform and warn our people about the real and present danger of mercury pollution due to human activities that are damaging the food supply and the ecosystems and causing harm to public health,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Human activities that release mercury into the environment are many and include coal combustion, artisanal and small-scale as well as large-scale mining, metal refining, the production, consumption and disposal of mercury-containing products and devices, waste disposal in dumps, landfills, incinerators and cement kilns, cremation and pollution from contaminated sites.

“To protect human health, wildlife and the environment from mercury, we call for strong global and national measures that will control industrial processes using or releasing mercury in air, water and soil, impose international ban on mercury supply and trade, phase out products and devices containing mercury, clean up contaminated sites and ensure environmentally-sound management of mercury-containing wastes to prevent them from entering the industrial, medical and industrial waste streams,” he added.

Prior to the “e-Jeep Toxics Tour,” the EcoWaste Coalition wrote to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) stressing the need for a strong and adequately-funded mercury treaty, which, among others, should provide for mandatory National Implementation Plans to help parties such as the Philippines in coming up with robust national inventories of mercury sources and releases and their corresponding action plans.

The group first assembled in front of the Quiapo Church at the historic Plaza Miranda where youth performers from Green Stage Filipinas-Maskara did a “sabayang bigkas” (speech choir) about the ill effects of mercury exposure and presented a puppet called “Mercury Contaminator.”

The group also unveiled a 20-meter blue and orange cloth to honor the victims of the tragic mercury poisoning in Minamata, Japan, where the blue depicts the coastal villages of Minamata and the orange depicts the signs warning villagers about the dangerous levels of mercury in the water.

Also in Quiapo, the group set up an “on-the-spot” screening of consumer products using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer at no cost to consumers who had their purchases like cosmetics tested for mercury and other toxic metals.

The group then proceeded to Carriedo St., Rizal Ave., Bustos St., DasmariƱas St., Quintin Paredes St., Reina Regente St., Felipe Dos St., Norberto Ty St.,, passing by iconic churches, shopping malls and stores in the area and winding up in Ongpin St., the heart of Chinatown.

During the three-hour "e-Jeep Toxics Tour," the AlerToxic Patrollers distributed information leaflets about mercury to buyers, sellers and commuters and, aided by a loud mobile sound system, cautioned people against mercury exposure and emphasized the need for precautionary action to avoid poisoning and ill health.

The EcoWaste Coalition-led event drew participants from Buklod Tao, Cavite Green Coalition, Green Stage Filipinas-Maskara, Zero Waste Philippines and the Food and Drug Administration.


24 June 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Calls for Inspection of Freezing and Storage Plants following Ammonia Gas Leak in QC

A toxics watchdog has appealed to concerned national and local government agencies to conduct an immediate inspection with public participation of ice and cold storage facilities in the country to prevent community and workplace safety problems due to ammonia leaks.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the appeal following the ammonia incident yesterday in Quezon City that forced hundreds of residents to flee when the gas seeped out from the Genuino Ice Plant on Colonel Moran St. in Barangay Sta. Cruz.

Ammonia or more specifically “anhydrous ammonia” is a commonly used refrigerant in large freezing and refrigeration plants such as those involved in ice making, dairy products manufacturing and cold storage.

Exposure to ammonia, a colorless, corrosive and highly irritating gas with suffocating smell, can irritate or burn the nose, throat and respiratory tract, eyes and skin, and cause dizziness and nausea among victims.

“Government regulators, together with community leaders, should swiftly conduct an inspection of freezing and storage facilities to prevent ammonia leaks due to engineering flaws and releases occurring during operations and maintenance as well as accidental releases,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“We hope our proposal will also trigger greater recognition of the community right to know about hazardous chemicals being produced, stored, used, treated or disposed of in industrial facilities, some of which may be located next to homes and schools, and lead to the environmentally-sound management of chemicals and wastes,” he added.

The group directed its appeal to key government agencies in charge of chemical accident response and mitigation such as the DILG-Bureau of Fire Protection, DOLE-Occupational Safety and Health Center, DENR-Environmental Management Bureau, DOH-Environmental and Occupational Health Office and local government units.

The proposed inspection of freezing and storage facilities has become imperative following a series of ammonia gas leak episodes involving ice plants, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

On 1 April 2012, ammonia gas leak occurred at the Polar Bear Freezing and Storage Corp. in Barangay Manggahan, Pasig City that caused the hospitalization of three persons.

On 29 February 2012, an ammonia gas leak from the ENL ice plant and storage in Barangay Ayala, Zamboanga City sickened over 100 villagers.

On March 3 and 4 2011, residents of Barangay Tibag, Pulilan, Bulacan were affected by ammonia leak from a Nestle ice cream factory in the area.

On 20 February 2011, over 300 families had to be evacuated as a result of an ammonia gas spill at VCNC ice plant in Barangay Bagong Bantay, Quezon City.


22 June 2012

Eco Groups Urge Pampanga to Focus on Zero Waste, not "Waste-to-Energy"

Environmental justice and health networks Mother Earth Foundation, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) call on the Province of Pampanga to defend the Clean Air and Ecological Solid Waste Management Acts, and be wary of waste-to-energy combustion projects being offered at no-cost to municipalities of the province at the Anti-Incineration Road Show (AIR Show), a series of workshops and community consultations about waste-to-energy held around the country.

Froilan Grate, President of the Mother Earth Foundation pointed out that they key to solving waste problems in the province is already in the hands of the municipalities considering most of them have their own solid waste management ordinances. “Firm enforcement of waste reduction , re-use, segregation, recycling and composting measures maybe done within the province. Not only will it bring savings from collecting and transporting waste to landfills or incinerators, it will also contribute to the conservation of our dwindling natural resources by reducing the need to extract virgin resources to manufacture new products.”

National laws mandating proper waste management abound in the country. “We have the Clean Air Act that prohibits burning of waste and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law that aims to set a systematic, comprehensive and ecological waste management program leading to zero waste Philippines,” said Christina Vergara, Zero Waste Officer of the EcoWaste Coalition. “Burning waste in incinerators conflict with every effort to properly enforce our ecological waste management law that ensures materials conservation,” she emphasized.

Although the promise of waste-to-energy may seem too good to resist, Paeng Lopez, National Campaigner of GAIA, was quick to point out the problems related to waste-to-energy incineration
facilities. “Waste-to-energy burn facilities are as unsustainable as they are polluting. They burn useful materials that maybe reused, recycled, or composted to produce energy that is five times less than what we can conserve by reusing, recycling, and composting in the first place.”

He also added, “In 2011 US EPA found out that incinerators release 14 times more mercury as coal-fired power plants per unit of energy, and emit far higher levels of greenhouse gas throughout their lifecycles than source reduction, reuse and recycling of the same materials.”

Lopez pointed out that pyrolysis, gasification, plasma arc are all incinerators in disguise.

Sonia Astudillo, Communications & Press Campaigner of HCWH, shared that waste management even in hospitals is indeed no sweat if we know the right thing to do. “Hospital wastes especially infectious wastes which were once considered the worst nightmare for any waste management program and often the excuse used to bring back incineration may be treated and disinfected through the use of autoclaves and microwaves.” Non-infectious wastes maybe recycled and treated as regular household waste.

The eco groups highlighted the economic impact of non-burning citing examples of too-good-to-be-true-WTE that turned sour and simple non-burn practices that eventually lead to extra income for the community.

“The aim is to move Pampanga towards zero waste and we will surely accomplish this with their determined cooperation,” said Grate.

21 June 2012

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Bureau of Customs to Ensure Non-Entry of Mercury-Tainted Milk from China

(China Daily/Jakarta Post)
A toxics watchdog has called upon the Bureau of Customs to ensure that recalled mercury-tainted milk products from China will not find its way into the local market.

In a statement made in response to the most recent food safety incident in China, the EcoWaste Coalition urged customs inspectors to be on their guard against possible entry of the recalled milk products.

Last Friday, the Yili Industrial Group, a major dairy company in China, recalled their Quan You infant formula manufactured between November 2011 and May 2012 after finding “abnormal amounts” of mercury in their products.

“We request Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon and our customs inspectors to ensure that no mercury-containing milk products are dumped into our ports by unscrupulous traders,” said Manny C. Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Mercury in milk would have extremely damaging, if not lethal, effects on children’s health and development,” he said.

For her part, breastfeeding advocate Ines Fernandez of Arugaan said: “The latest toxic milk episode in China could be another case of corporate fraud and greed similar to the 2008 melamine in milk scandal in 2008 that killed at least six babies and affected some 300,000 victims. The incident only underscores the importance of promoting and supporting breastmilk as a natural, traditional and ecological way of feeding infants.”

According to health studies, exposures to mercury can interfere with developing neurons in the brain and can cause irreversible damage to the central nervous system, especially in developing fetuses and children.

Some of the adverse health effects of mercury exposure include deficits in IQ,abnormal muscle tone and loses in motor function, attention and audio-visual performance.

The groups called for increased consumer vigilance against dangerous goods inthe market, especially food products that are marketed for babies and young children.

The groups appealed to citizens to report any individual or store selling the recalled milk products through the following hotlines of the Food and Drug Administration: 807-8275 or 842-5606.


19 June 2012

FDA Alerted on Dangerous Cosmetics Laced with Mercury on Store Shelves (13 Skin Whitening Brands Tested Positive for Mercury)

Quezon City. A toxics watchdog that has been tracking dangerous chemicals in consumer products has alerted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the illegal sale in the cities of Manila and Makati of skin whitening products laden with mercury.

An extremely harmful chemical, mercury can damage the kidneys and the nervous system. It can interfere with the normal development of the brain in fetuses and young children.

“We have notified the FDA about the illicit sale of mercury-tainted products that lure consumers with the promise of lighter complexion and removal of facial freckles, scars and spots. These products are dangerous and should not be sold to uninformed consumers,” said Aileen Lucero of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“Even those not using mercury-laced skin whitening products can be exposed to this poison,” warned Dr. Bessie Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center.

“ A child, for example, can inhale the mercury vapor with the application of the cream by the user or even directly ingest mercury if she touches a person who has used the cream and then place her hands into her mouth,” explained Antonio, a pediatric toxicologist.

Of the 14 samples, 13 were found to contain excessive levels of mercury from 550 parts per million (ppm) to 60,800 ppm in patent violation of the 1 ppm allowable limit under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.

None of the samples listed mercury as an ingredient, and all are not yet included in the list of 50 skin whitening products that the FDA banned in 2010-2011 for containing excessive amounts of mercury.

Sold from P60 to P180, the samples were purchased on June 16, 17 and 18, 2012 from cosmetics stalls and Chinese drug stores located in Binondo, Divisoria, Quiapo and Sta. Cruz, Manila and in Guadalupe, Makati and screened for mercury using an X-Ray Fluorescence(XRF) spectrometer.

In their letter to FDA OIC Atty. Nicolas B. Lutero III dated June 19, 2012, the EcoWaste Coalition proposed the following action points for the agency to consider, to wit:

A. Issue a new advisory banning skin whitening products for containing mercury above the allowable limit of 1 ppm.

B. Conduct a series of law enforcement activities to rid the market of skin lightening cosmetics containing dangerous levels of mercury and without the benefit of notification with the FDA.

C. Publish a consumer education material that will inform users about the health hazards posed by mercury-containing cosmetics.

D. Encourage victims of mercury exposure from skin whitening products to come forward and tell their stories.

To protect themselves and their families against mercury exposure, the EcoWaste Coalition urged cosmetics consumers to read product labels carefully and refuse those that do not provide adequate and understandable information, including the required list of ingredients.

Signs and symptoms of mercury poisoning, according to the US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, include irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing, memory problems, depression and numbness and tingling in hands, feet or around mouth.

The group also cautioned consumers from simply throwing cosmetics that may contain mercury into the regular bins.

“Discarded mercury-containing cosmetics fall under household hazardous waste and should be managed, stored and disposed of in an environmentally-sound way, ”the EcoWaste Coalition said.



1. AILKE Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening and Peeling Cream manufactured/distributed by (not indicated on the label)(purchased for P120 from Central Chinese Drug Store, 1057 Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila), mercury NOT detected.

2. Feique Whitening Anti-Freckle Cream manufactured/distributed by GLDJB (Harbin) Cosmetics Ltd.,China (purchased for P60 from stall IA 43-45, 168 Mall, Divisoria, Manila), 16,000 ppm of mercury

3. Feique Golden Aloe Whitening Anti-Scar, Anti Freckle Set manufactured/distributed by GLDJB (Harbin)Cosmetics Ltd., China (purchased for P60 from stall IA 43-45, 168 Mall, Divisoria, Manila), 25,000 ppm of mercury

4. Feique Green Tea Vital Whitening Freckle-Removing Cream manufactured/distributed by GLDJB (Harbin) Cosmetics Ltd., China (purchased for P150 from stall IA 43-45, 168 Mall, Divisoria, Manila), 15,800 ppm of mercury

5. Bai Li Tou Hong manufactured/distributed by (not indicated in English) (purchased for P150 from stall IA 43-45, 168 Mall,Divisoria, Manila), 46,700 ppm of mercury

6. Maidaifu Herbal Moisturizing and Whitening Cream manufactured/distributed by (not indicated in English) (purchased forP180 from Stall IA-45, 168 Mall, Divisoria, Manila), 60,800 ppm of mercury

7. Green Cucumber and Ginseng 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Set manufactured/distributed by Yudantang International, Taiwan (purchased for P120 from stall IR-24, 168Mall, Divisoria), 9,414 ppm of mercury

8. Loreial Paris Anti-Freckle Cream Suit manufactured/distributed by (not indicated on the label) (purchased for P120 from stall IB 2-4 999 Shopping Mall,Divisoria, Manila), 1,371 ppm of mercury

9. Aichun Beauty Strongly WhiteningFreckle Series (3 in one) manufactured/distributed by France Sasa (HK) International Group Ltd. / Livepro Beauty Cosmetics Co. Ltd., China (purchased for P98 from G2 Beauty Products, Villalobos St., Quiapo, Manila), 550 ppm of mercury

10. “Special Cream” (double, label in Chinese) manufactured/distributed by (not indicated in English) (purchased for P80 from stall G-162 Good Earth Mall, Bustos St., Sta. Cruz, Manila), 1,565 ppm of mercury

11. “Special Cream” (single, label in Chinese)manufactured/distributed by (not indicated in English) (purchased for P80 from Famous Chinese Drug Store, Recto Ave. near Rizal Ave., Sta. Cruz, Manila), 1,378 ppm of mercury

12. Yudantang Ginseng and Ganoderma Lucidum 6 Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Sun Block Cream manufactured/distributed by Yudantang International, Taiwan (purchased for P140 from Rose and Fujikura General Merchandise, Uni-Mec Supermarket, Guadalupe, Makati City), 31,300 ppm of mercury

13. Aichun Beauty Green Tea Whitening Speckle Removing Series (3 in one) manufactured/distributed by France Sasa (HK) International Group Ltd./Livepro Beauty Cosmetic Co. Ltd., China (purchased for P90 from G2 Beauty Products, Carriedo St., Quiapo, Manila), 1,250 ppm of mercury

14. Aichun Beauty Pawpaw Whitening and Freckle Remover Series (3 in one) manufactured/distributed by France Sasa (HK) International Group Ltd./Livepro Beauty Cosmetic Co. Ltd., China (purchased for P90 from G2 Beauty Products, Carriedo St., Quiapo, Manila), 867 ppm of mercury


18 June 2012

Philippine NGOs Join Clamor for World Leaders to Commit to a Toxics-Free Future

As government negotiators race for a crucial agreement that many hope will set the path for a sustainable planet, over 150 groups from the Philippines asked world leaders not to neglect the harm caused by toxic chemicals and wastes and the need for resolute action to protect the public health and the environment.

In an effort to elevate the chemical safety agenda at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development on June 20-22 in Brazil, the groups signed the “Common Statement for a Toxics-Free Future” initiated by IPEN and its international civil society partners and supported by some 1,000 organizations from over 90 countries.

The groups affirmed and asked government leaders to uphold that “living in a pollution-free world is a basic human right.”

“We join the global campaign for a toxics-free future where exposure to toxic and hazardous chemicals is no longer a source of harm and where people have the right to enjoy healthy and sustainable green livelihoods that do not harm their bodies or the environment,” the groups declared.

Among the groups that have signed the statement were the EcoWaste Coalition, Alliance of Progressive Labor, AlyansaTigil Mina, Asian Peasant Coalition, Buklurang Manggagawa ng Pilipinas-NCR, Cavite Green Coalition, Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance-Philippines, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Food and Sustainable Economy, Jubilee South Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development, NGO Forum on ADB, No to Coal Coalition, Save Babies Coalition and the Save Sierra Madre Network.

Through the statement, the groups challenged world leaders to take steps to create a safe, sustainable approach to chemicals that includes:

a.Global phase-out of toxic chemicals that harm human health and the environment;

b. Protection, right to know, fair compensation, medical treatment and environmental justice for workers and families impacted by chemical pollution;

c. Cost structures for chemicals that reflect their true cost to people and the environment and which will help eliminate pollution; and

d. Investments to create a sustainable chemical industry based on the precautionary principle.

The groups noted that health problems such as cancer, heart disease,reproductive and developmental disorders, asthma, autism, diabetes, degenerative diseases and mental health illnesses have been shown to have links to the pollution of air, water, soil and food, as well as toxic consumer products and wastes.

Citing data from the World Health Organization, the groups pointed out that industrial and agricultural chemicals and acute chemical poisonings are responsible for 1.2 million deaths per year and at least 1.7 percent of the global burden of disease,imposing unacceptable burden on developing and transition countries.

In their statement, the groups also noted that the large majority of the pesticides and industrial chemicals currently in production and use have still not been adequately tested for their impact on human health and the environment.

They expressed concern over the increasing use of synthetic pesticides and industrial chemicals, including hazardous substances and nanomaterials contained in consumer products, while developing and transition countries lack adequate infrastructure or resources to ensure the sound management of these chemicals and their subsequent wastes.

This is particularly so for the escalating quantities of electronic wastes; the ever increasing solid and liquid wastes from mining and petroleum and gas extraction; obsolete pesticides and their containers; and the vast hazardous industrial waste stockpiles, the groups said.

Finally, they emphasized that meaningful and active participation including the right to free, prior and informed consent by all sectors of civil society, particularly women, workers and indigenous peoples, is essential in regulatory decision-making related to chemical safety, and recognise the urgent need for ‘information and knowledge on chemicals throughout their life cycle, including the risks that they pose to human health and the environment.


Please click to read the full statement:

17 June 2012

"Waste and Dump No More" to Avert Flash Floods" (LGUs, Households Urged to Step Up Waste Reduction Efforts)

Environmental groups today called on the general public to halt indiscriminate wasting and dumping to prevent perennial flash floods that turn our streets into filthy “swimming pools.”

The EcoWaste Coalition and the Mother Earth Foundation also reiterated their appeal for everyone to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost as much as they could to cut Metro Manila’s swelling garbage at 8,600 tons daily.

“The cold-hearted practice of some people of throwing their discards anywhere is a major cause of instant flooding after heavy downpour,” said Froilan Grate, NGO representative to the Metro Manila Solid Waste Management Board.

“Cigarette butts, plastic bags, food leftovers and other rubbish that uncaring people dump everywhere eventually clog the storm drains and waterways, causing flash floods,” he explained.

“Dumped waste materials also cause pumping stations, which are meant to control flood waters, to slow or break down,” he lamented.

Flash floods can harm and even kill humans and animals, diffuse bacterial and chemical contaminants, pollute drinking water, spread water-borne ailments,disrupt public utilities, damage properties and cause economic losses, the groups noted.

The groups pointed out that the Metro Manila Development Authority’s quarterly clearing and dredging operations called “estero blitz” will be a huge waste of resources if dumping remains unrestrained.

“The ecological management of discards is a critical component in any complete flood prevention and management program,” Grate said, stressing that individual, family and community participation is the key for its success.

“We call on all barangay councils to exercise effective leadership in educating and mobilizing our people to waste and dump no more for healthier and safer communities,” he stated.

Considering the special needs of informal settlers, especially those living along creeks and rivers, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Mother Earth Foundation urged the authorities to ensure that constant efforts are made to inform and assist them in managing their discards.

“The informal settlements are here to stay unless and until we have fully addressed the needs of our people for humane and sustainable employment,livelihood and housing,” they noted.

“In the meantime, we urge the government to invest more in uplifting their living environments, including implementing a program on ecological waste management program that will cater to their specific conditions,” the groups said.