09 May 2014

Waste-to-Energy Watchdogs ‘Spank’ Waste Management Commission Over Guidelines (Green Groups Launched “Kilusang Bayan Kontra Pagsusunog ng Basura” vs. Waste-to-Energy Incinerators)

Quezon City. “The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) deserves a good ‘legal’ spanking for crafting the waste-to-energy (WTE) guidelines when it has not even fully carried out its mandates under RA 9003,” the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC) and EcoWaste Coalition issued the strong statement in reaction to the NSWMC’s proposed guidelines governing WTE incineration technologies, even while RA 9003, whose implementation the commission is supposed to oversee, calls for the adoption of “best environmental practice(s) in ecological waste management excluding incineration.”

PEJC, in a letter, handed to each NSWMC member in attendance during its meeting yesterday, maintained that “WTE runs contrary to the essential ecological and ‘hierarchical’ [waste management] principles [such as] ‘source reduction and minimization, resource recovery, recycling and reuse of wastes.”

“[WTE] encourages mixing of wastes, in clear violation of RA 9003,” wrote PEJC Co-Founder/Co-Trustee Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos in the said letter.

“WTE-incineration won’t hold water if wastes are dealt with according to the law, as only a mere 2 to 4% of generated wastes would be available for them to burn, making the whole thing economically unviable and simply nonsensical,” said EcoWaste Coalition National Coordinator, Aileen Lucero.

“Add that the process emits hazardous substances, violating even the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999, which the DENR, the NSWMC Chair, is also supposed to implement,” Lucero added.

“The WTE guidelines’ reliance on a “grossly misplaced” Supreme Court (SC) statement lifted from a resolution in the MMDA vs Jancom Environmental Corporation does not hold water as well,” Atty. Estenzo-Ramos pointed out.

The environmental defense lawyer clarified that the SC statement, saying “[Section 20 of the Clean Air Act] does not absolutely prohibit incineration as a mode of waste disposal; rather only those burning processes which emit poisonous and toxic fumes are banned,” is “a mere obiter dictum or an incidental expression of opinion, which does not lay down a doctrinal rule that could serve as a precedent.”

“The only question before the Court is whether or not there is a valid and perfected contract between [MMDA and Jancom],” she further clarified.

“Instead of wandering in areas it is not familiar with, the commission should focus all its strengths on performing its clear roles and working on its backlogs, specifically its mandate to come up with and promulgate the list of non-environmentally acceptable products; which, once done, would eliminate much of our garbage woes,” Estenzo-Ramos maintained.

The EcoWaste Coalition and PEJC clarified that they are not against WTE per se, but only against WTEs that employ incineration.

To thwart the establishment of new WTE incineration ventures and stop ongoing WTE incineration projects in the country, the EcoWaste Coalition and its member groups have launched the campaign dubbed as the “Kilusang Bayan Kontra Pagsusunog ng Basura” (People’s Movement against Waste Incineration).

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