30 August 2015

Environmentalists Support “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation”

Source: http://topwalls.net/small-flowers-in-the-field/

Environmentalists urged Filipinos from all walks of life to stand for Mother Earth amid the unfolding climate and environmental crisis by partaking in the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” next Tuesday.

Pope Francis recently declared the annual observance of the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” on September 1, corresponding to the “Day for the Protection of the Environment” of the Orthodox Church.

According to the “green pope,” the yearly celebration “will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which He has entrusted to our care, and to implore His help for the protection of creation as well as His pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”

“We are one with the Catholic Church in promoting awareness and action for environmental sustainability, which is threatened by irresponsible human behaviors, including the depletion of natural resources, inane materialism, throw-away culture and polluting practices,” said Sonia Mendoza, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network espousing clean production and zero waste.

“We congratulate the Church for this latest ‘green’ initiative following the historic release of Laudato Si, which we hope will evolve into an ecumenical platform for global, national and local efforts leading to ‘ecological conversion’ within the church and society,” she added.

Environmental and spiritual leaders from other faith groups also welcomed the reiteration of the papal plea for “ecological conversion” during the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.”

Rene Pineda, an evangelical Christian, said: “Our common faith in the Creator of heaven and earth interconnects all forms of lives, spirits and things.  As we continue to sin, disrespect and desecrate all that is created, we displease God.  But as our God loves us eternally, please pray for the forgiveness of our sins and renewal of vow to respect, protect and conserve all that He has created.”  Pineda is President of the Partnership for Clean Air, a multi-sector network promoting better air quality management in the country.

Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) priest Fr. Jun Silvestre, stated: “The climate crisis affects us all, especially the poor.  We need to act together to push for ecological solutions, starting with simple things that we can do to lessen our impact on the environment.”  Silvestre is from the IFI Parish of La Purisima Concepcion in Malabon City.

The EcoWaste Coalition likewise commended the effort of the Redemptorists, together with the devotees, to turn the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran into a “green” zone.

Aside from declaring the church compound as a non-smoking area, Baclaran Church has put up large receptacles for the recycling of plastic bottles and other recyclable discards and has embarked on vegetable gardening as well.

Baclaran Church is also planning to tap solar power as clean, safe and renewable source of energy.





28 August 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Welcomes Lawmakers’ Action to Put Canada Garbage Controversy to Rest

The environmental watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition welcomed the lawmakers’ initiative to bring the Canadian trash dumping controversy to an end. 

The House Committee on Ecology led by  Rep. Amado S. Bagatsing recently wrote to Canada’s House of Commons (a component of the  Parliament of Canada) to ask Canada to re-import the over 50 shipping containers of mixed garbage that arrived in Manila ports in June to September 2013, as well as those that were exported afterwards.

Bagatsing’s letter was e-mailed last August 25 to Canada’s parliamentary Standing Committee of Environment and Sustainable Development with copies of the letter provided to Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje.

“We welcome the effort of our lawmakers  to reach out to their Canadian counterparts to put the garbage dumping scandal to rest,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“It would have been better if the letter was sent months earlier since the Canadian parliament has been dissolved since August 2, ending all business in the Senate and the House of Commons, and politicians are busy campaigning for the October 19 polls,” she pointed out.

“We can only hope that Canadian politicians on the campaign trail, with the help of the media and the public, would take notice of our own lawmakers’ plea for environmental justice and act sooner,” she added.

The group recalled that as early as September 2014, Ang NARS Party-List Rep. Leah Paquiz filed House Resolution 1525 calling on the House Committee on Ecology to investigate the illegal importation of mixed wastes from Canada. 

In their letter to their counterpart committee in Canada, the House Committee on Ecology invoked the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal as basis for their submission.

The Committee specifically cited paragraph 2 of Article 9 of the treaty on “Illegal Traffic” stating that “the State of export shall ensure that the illegal traffic are either: (a) taken back by the exporter or the generator or, if necessary, by itself into the State of export; or, if impracticable, (b) disposed of in accordance with the provisions of this Convention, within 30 days from the time the State of export has been informed about the illegal traffic or such other period of time as States concerned may agree,” 

“It must be underscored that its provisions, intentions and underlying principles for governments to take due diligence and responsibility on illegal traffic activities, most specially on wastes emanating from their country, must be diplomatically resolved,” the letter said.

“In this connection, we would like to express our united position that the 50 container vans of waste, including those waste exported thereafter, be shipped back by the government of Canada itself, since it cannot compel the shipper to return its containers to Canada pursuant to the Basel Convention,” it emphasized. 

The Committee, according to Bagatsing, noted as “unfortunate” a statement made by the Canadian envoy “that there is no current domestic law, which your government could apply to compel the shipper to return its containers to Canada.”

“While criminal cases were already lodged against the Chronic Plastics, a company to which shipment was consigned, the House Ecology Committee opts to seek refuge in the fact that governments of the Philippines and Canada are signatories to the Basel Convention since 1989,” the letter stated.

Bagatsing further noted that the House Committee on Ecology is against the disposal of the illegal Canadian garbage in any place within the Philippine national territory.





26 August 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Urges Government to Convene Inter-Agency Committee to Craft Policy Regulating Oxalic Acid (Toxics Watchdog Renews Call to Prohibit the Sale of Repacked Oxalic Acid on Streets)

The government must act fast to prevent more cases of oxalic acid poisoning that had so far claimed the lives of four people this year.

The EcoWaste Coalition pleaded for the strict regulation of oxalic acid that will specifically ban its unregulated repacking for retail on streets and public markets, as well as its unchecked use for non-industrial applications.

The Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory on Tuesday confirmed oxalic acid poisoning as the cause of death of Jose Maria and Juliet Escano who died last July 9 based on the analysis of the contents of the victims’ stomachs.

Police toxicology experts also blamed oxalic acid for the death of milk tea shop owner William Abrigo and customer Suzaine Dagohoy last April 9.

“These fatal poisoning cases due to the ingestion of oxalic acid should serve as a wake-up call to government regulators at both national and local levels to act with lightning speed before this poison claims another life,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

To address this issue at the national level, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the government to convene the Inter-Agency Committee on Environment Health, particularly its sector on toxic and hazardous substances, which is tasked to “formulate policies, promulgate guidelines and develop programs for environmental health protection.” 

Urgently convening IACEH after these tragic oxalic acid poisoning cases will support the country’s “National Chemical Safety and Toxicology Policy” as provided for under Department of Health Administrative Order 2013-009, the group pointed out.

At the local level, the group urged municipal and city councils to enact ordinances that will prohibit and penalize the unauthorized distribution and sale of repacked oxalic acid in line with the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code, which empowers local government units to adopt measures that will, among other things, “promote health and safety.”

As per its material safety data sheet (MSDS) , oxalic acid is very corrosive to the human body and may be fatal if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through the skin.

According to the PNP, “about 10 µg/mL (micrograms per milliliter) of oxalic acid is considered (a) dangerous amount.” 

“The average human body contains approximately four liters of blood. Therefore, it will only take about 40 mg of oxalic acid to poison a human body which can potentially lead to a person’s death,” the PNP said.



25 August 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Joins the Clamor for Justice for Pamana


Watchdog Urges BOC to Target Smugglers of Hazardous Products and Wastes, Not Balikbayan Box Senders

A watchdog group that is untiringly campaigning against the unlawful dumping of hazardous products and wastes in the country’s ports urged the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to target shipping containers loaded with misdeclared goods, not the balikbayan boxes.

“With relatives and friends residing or working abroad,  it’s not difficult for us to connect with the anxiety and disgust being felt by balikbayan box senders over  BOC’s plan to enforce tougher procedures on such boxes to curb smuggling,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.  

“By and large, balikbayan boxes contain ‘pasalubong’ items, many of which have sentimental rather than commercial value, that overseas Filipinos painstakingly buy, gather and send to their loved ones back home,” he said.  

“Hazardous products in huge quantities such as unregistered cosmetics, insect killers and weight loss merchandises, restricted and prohibited drugs, imported firecrackers and fireworks and toys with no product registration, as well as garbage from Canada and probably elsewhere, are being smuggled into the country not by the acclaimed ‘bagong bayani’ of our nation, but by unscrupulous traders,” he stated. 

While welcoming President Benigno Aquino III’s  fresh directive stopping BOC from conducting random physical inspection of balikbayan boxes, the EcoWaste Coalition insisted that customs authorities should get tough with crooked importers and customs brokers that bring in misdeclared hazardous products and wastes into the country. 

“Our customs inspectors know how these misdeclared products and wastes are avoiding detection and confiscation.   They are in a good position to wage a war against such illegal imports,” Dizon said.

Dizon’s group has been conducting periodic market surveillance to alert government regulators and the general public regarding the proliferation of such illegal imports.

For example, the EcoWaste Coalition from November 2014 to February 2015 conducted an extensive market investigation that gathered damning proof confirming the illicit trade of contraband mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics in 50 cities across the country from Baguio to Zamboanga. 

The said exposé resulted to the subsequent banning by the Food and Drugs Administration of 24 brands of imported skin whitening creams contaminated with toxic mercury, a potent neurotoxin that can damage the brain and central nervous system, the kidneys and the skin.

As far as smuggled garbage is concerned, the EcoWaste Coalition and other concerned groups and individuals in July this year filed a motion to intervene in a criminal case versus the importer and customs broker of some 55 container vans of Canadian trash for violation of Republic Act 6969, the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act.

The legal step was undertaken to enforce the obligation of the accused to return the illegal garbage imports pursuant to the said law.


21 August 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Finds FDA-Banned Products On Sale in Marikina, Too

After exposing the illegal sale of products banned by the government for health and safety reasons in Makati, Manila, Pasay and Quezon Cities, the EcoWaste Coalition has turned its sights on Marikina City.

In an urgent report submitted to Mayor Del de Guzman and City Health Officer Dr. Alberto Herrera, the watchdog group bared the unchecked sale of products banned by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) at the Marikina Market Mall, which is only a stone’s throw away from the Marikina City Health Office.

Based on market surveillance conducted on August 20, the group found several general merchandise stores selling unregistered insect sprays and mosquito coils that have not passed the FDA’s safety and efficacy assessment.

“Our latest investigation shows that the sale of unregistered insect killers is rife not only in Baclaran, Divisoria and Quiapo, but also in other bustling retail centers such as the Marikina Market Mall,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“The ubiquitous presence of these contraband goods in the local market is deeply alarming and should trigger a metro-wide crackdown to cripple such illegal trade,” he suggested. 

As per EcoWaste’s market monitoring, the following unregistered insecticides in aerosol cans are being sold in Marikina: Baolliai, Big Bie Pai, Sun Universe Frog King, Tangshi, Tianshi and Txaksi.  

The FDA had earlier warned that unregistered insecticides “are harmful, toxic and imminently dangerous to human and animal health.” 

On the other hand, among the unregistered mosquito coils being offered for sale in the area include Anlu, Bike BNC, Brother, Mantis and Wawang.  Anlu, BNC, Brother and Wawang were among those banned by the FDA last July 30.

“Pesticides in mosquito coils found in unregistered products may be toxic when inhaled or accidentally ingested by toddler or children,” the FDA warned

The EcoWaste Coalition also drew attention to the illegal sale in Marikina of FDA-banned skin whitening cosmetics laced with mercury such as the Angel Placenta Skin Whitening Cream , JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream and S’zitang Whitening Cream.

Time after time, the FDA requested LGUs “to apprehend vendors or outlets found selling the said highly toxic cosmetic products to prevent further exposure and to protect the environment."

“With the health and well-being of the people of Marikina in mind, we request the City Government to immediately take action to cause of the removal of the said banned products from the market,” the EcoWaste Coalition through Dizon wrote to De Guzman.

The group also asked for the prosecution of the offenders in accordance with R.A. 9711, the Food and Drugs Administration Act, R.A. 7394, the Consumer Act of the Philippines, and other applicable laws.

As the group’s surveillance was limited to Marikina Market Mall and Riverbanks Mall, the group urged the local authorities to dispatch its health and sanitation inspectors to other public markets and retail centers in the city.




18 August 2015

Pasay LGU Requested to Get Tough on Retailers Selling Banned Products with Hazardous Ingredients

Samples of illegal skin whitening cosmetics, slimming products and insecticides that are being sold in Pasay City.

A watchdog group for chemical safety and public health urged the Pasay City Government to flex its muscles against traders of consumer products banned for containing dangerous ingredients.

Through a letter sent to Mayor Antonino G. Calixto on Monday, the EcoWaste Coalition alerted the Pasay City authorities about the unlawful sale in discount malls in Baclaran and Libertad of products without the required notification or registration from the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).

“Based on our on-the-spot market monitoring last Sunday, we saw several stores operating in discount malls that are selling FDA-banned products,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

The banned products being sold at retail outlets in Victory Pasay City Mall and Wellcome Plaza in Libertad, and the Baclaran LRT Plaza Mall, Bagong Milenyo Plaza Mall,  Jinbao Super Center, Merwin Mart and Two Shopping Center in Baclaran include skin whitening cosmetics, slimming or weight-loss products and insect killers.

Among these prohibited goods were Golden Pearl Beauty Cream from Pakistan and variants of Jiaoli and S’zitang skin whitening cosmetics from China that the FDA had banned for containing mercury, a toxic metal that can cause damage to the brain and the central nervous systems, the skin and the kidneys.
A store at Bagong Milenyo Plaza Mall sells FDA-banned Golden Pearl Beauty Cream from Pakistan

Banned slimming products such as Brazilian Slimming Coffee, Leisure 18 Slimming Coffee an Leisure Burn Body Fat Orange Juice were also found on sale despite being banned by the FDA for containing unauthorized ingredients like sibutramine, a pharmaceutical ingredient that can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. 
A store at Wellcome Plaza Mall sells FDA-banned slimming products.

Also, the group found retailers selling smuggled household insecticides with no product registration from the FDA, including Baolillai, Big Bie Pai, Butiki, General Toad and Tianshi insect killers in aerosol cans.
A store at Baclaran LRT Plaza Mall sells boxes of FDA-banned household insecticides from China.
3F Trade Center at Two Shopping Center sells unregistered insect killers such as aerosol insecticides and mosquito coils.
The EcoWaste Coalition requested Mayor Calixto to initiate immediate law enforcement operations to protect consumers from being deceived and harmed by their uninformed consumption of such banned  products.  

The group also requested the mayor to organize a meeting among the managers of discount malls operating in the city, as well as with mall and street vendors’ associations,  to orient them on the prohibition against selling FDA-covered products  that have no certificate of product notification or registration from the agency.

“With the active cooperation of the mayor’s office and the city health office, we can expect the Pasay City Government to make headway in protecting consumers against unsafe products that can damage their health and future,” Dizon said.


16 August 2015

QC Council Urged: "Take a Stand vs Foreign Waste Dumping in Payatas" (20 Groups Back Proposed Resolution)

Environmental, labor and women’s groups urged the Quezon City Council to fast track the unanimous adoption of a resolution that will serve as a deterrent against any move to dump Canadian garbage in Payatas.

Proposed Resolution No. 19CC-1131, introduced by District 1 Councilor Dorothy Delarmente, seeks to “express strong disapproval against any plan to dispose foreign waste at the Payatas Sanitary Landfill.”

Backing the City Council’s approval of the resolution were Quezon City-based groups such as Ang NARS, Arugaan, Associated Labor Unions-TUCP, Bangon Kalikasan Movement, Ban Toxics, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino-NCR, Citizens' Organizations Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Green Convergence, Greenpeace,  Health Care Without Harm, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Mother Earth Foundation, Oceana Philippines, Piglas Kababaihan, Public Services Labor Independent Confederation, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa, WomanHealth Philippines and Zero Waste Philippines.

“The resolution, which is not contentious at all, should be swiftly passed by the councilors to send a clear signal that garbage imports from Canada and elsewhere will not be allowed in Payatas,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Its passage is one great gift that the councilors can give as the city marks on August 19 the 137th birth anniversary of former Pres. Manuel Luis Quezon after whom the city was named.   They will surely earn ‘ganda’ and ‘pogi’ points for saying ‘no’ against dumping,” she said.

“Whether hazardous or not, as some quarters would claim, the controversial garbage would not qualify as ‘municipal waste’ because it’s not locally generated,” she added.

Republic Act 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, defines “municipal waste as wastes produced from activities within local government units.”

“Like the Tarlac Provincial Board, we appeal to the QC Council to take a patriotic and precautionary stand versus foreign waste dumping in Payatas and the Philippines for that matter,” Lucero stated.

According to the proposed resolution, “the Bureau of Customs is reportedly scurrying for alternative sites where the illegal garbage imports from Canada can be disposed of after Tarlac and Bulacan officials have raised legitimate objections to foreign waste being dumped in local landfills.”

“The Quezon City Council finds the dumping of foreign waste into our country as totally inexcusable and unacceptable and demands that such unethical and unlawful act be brought a halt,” the proposed resolution stated.

From June 2013 to January 2014, a total of 103 shipping containers of mixed garbage from Canada misdeclared as “plastic scraps” for recycling were illegally exported to the Philippines.

Trash from 26 of these containers were dumped at a landfill in Capas, Tarlac from June 26 to July 8 without authorization from the provincial government, prompting the local authorities to immediately stop further dumping of the foreign garbage in the facility. 

Such illegal importation of garbage contravenes national and international laws, including the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Administrative Order 1994-28 (Interim Guidelines for the Importation of Recyclable Materials Containing Hazardous Substances), Republic Act 6969 (Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act) and Republic Act 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act), as well as the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, which also covers “wastes collected from households.


15 August 2015

EcoWaste Coalition Reminds Public to Shun Careless Garbage Disposal

An environmental watchdog appealed anew to the general public to stop careless trash disposal that is surely aggravating the flashfloods amid the frequent occurrence of thunderstorms in Metro Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a persistent campaigner for public health and safety, made another pitch for the ecological management of household and commercial discards in the wake of repeated flooding incidents in the metropolis due to intense thunderstorms.

“We call upon all households, as well as commercial establishments, to stop reckless garbage disposal that is clogging the waterways and filling the dumpsites to the brim,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As we all know, what we carelessly throw will come back to us in forms that are perilous to both life and limb such as flashfloods, stagnant pools and water-borne diseases,” she said.

While the connection between improper waste management and flooding is a no-brainer, many individuals, homes and businesses irresponsibly dispose of their discards, lamented Lucero.

“Smokers toss cigarette butts on the ground, kids and adults drop candy and snack wrappers wherever they like, while others lob garbage-filled plastic bags on the streets, vacant lots, creeks and rivers,” she pointed out.

“Commercial establishments such as restaurants that do not have grease traps and simply throw used oil into the sink are also to blame for the floods as used oil tends to harden and obstruct the drainage system,” she emphasized.  

“Other thoughtlessly thrown discards such as hair cuttings from barber shops and beauty parlors, polystyrene containers for food and beverage and construction and demolition debris can also seriously block the drainage,” she added.  

To ease urban flooding, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the need for people and businesses to rally behind waste prevention and reduction efforts at all levels, and to combat all forms of littering and dumping.

The group specifically asked local government units to make polluters pay by enforcing key environmental laws such as Republic Act 9003 and Republic Act 9275.

R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, bans littering and other acts that pose harm to health and sanitation such as the open burning and dumping of trash. 

Under R.A. 9003, litterbugs can be fined from P300 to P1,00, compelled to undertake community service or be required to pay the fine as well as render community service.

R.A. 9275, the Clean Water Act, prohibits the discharging of materials that could cause water pollution or impede the natural flow in the water body and sets a fine of not less than P10,000 to not more P200,000 for every day of violation.


13 August 2015

Manila Health Department Intensifies Drive vs Contraband Hazardous Products (Health Advocates Team Up with Sanitation Inspectors to Rid the Market of Banned Products)

The Manila Health Department (MHD) swooped down on Divisoria vendors selling unregistered imported insect killers that can pose risk to human and animal health.

On Thursday, MHD teamed up with the EcoWaste Coalition in conducting the market inspection targeting household insecticides and mosquito coils that are being sold without the required Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) product registration.

The joint MHD-EcoWaste operation led to the seizure of six boxes of banned Baolillai, Big Bie Pai and Butiki insecticides in aerosol cans and one box of Butiki mosquito coils that were taken from retailers at M.D. Santos St. and from 698 Mall along Sta. Elena St..

Banned household insecticides were also seen at discount stores in 168 and Lucky Chinatown Malls prior to the inspection, but were hidden away by vendors before the law enforcers came.   

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watchdog group promoting chemical safety and zero waste, had earlier alerted the MHD about the unlawful sale of such products at Annex B of Lucky Chinatown Mall and adjacent streets.  

Leading the combined MHD-EcoWaste team were Hilario Villegas, District Sanitary Officer and sanitary inspectors from District III Health Office, as well as police officers in the area.

The FDA as early as August 2013 had warned the public against the use of  unregistered insect killers, smuggled and dumped in the country, which have not passed the agency’s efficacy and safety assessment.

“The illegal sale of unregistered insect killers has gone on unabated, particularly in Divisoria, Quiapo and other popular bargain hubs,” lamented Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“In fact those insecticides banned in 2013 are still openly sold in the domestic market despite being tagged by the FDA as ‘harmful, toxic  and imminently dangerous to human and animal health’ in blatant defiance of the law,” he added.

“Worst, the number of such contraband insect killers in the market has multiplied as we have reported to Health Secretary Janette Garin,” he emphasized.

Last August 5, the EcoWaste Coalition wrote to Garin to reiterate the need for action to put a stop to the illicit trade of unregistered household insecticides.

The group expressed optimism that law enforcement activities by the MHD and its counterparts in other local government units (LGUs) will make a dent on the illegal insecticide trade.

“MHD’s vigilance will surely bear positive results and we hope that other LGUs will follow suit and clamp down on traders of such health-damaging products,” the EcoWaste Coalition said. 

Copies of FDA advisories banning household insecticides and mosquito coils without product registration were given to vendors for their information and compliance.



12 August 2015

Groups Intervene in Canada Garbage Court Case at the Manila RTC

Five environmental, labor and party list groups, including private individuals, have joined forces to ensure the return of the illegal garbage imported from Canada to its origin in accordance with national and international laws.

The EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Public Services Labor Confederation, Sentro ng  mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa and Ang NARS  Party-list, and private individuals, have filed a motion to intervene in a criminal case filed against the importer and customs brokers of the Canadian garbage for violation of Republic Act 6969, the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act.

The groups are seeking the court's permission to be allowed to intervene in the case to enforce the obligation of the accused to return the illegal trash imports pursuant to R.A. 6969.

The groups filed their motion for intervention, along with the complaint-in-intervention, on July 22 with Branch 1 of the Regional Trial Court of Manila.  The first hearing is set on August 19.

The groups intervened “to prevent the further dumping of the illegal trash imports in the country and for the imported garbage to be sent back to Canada in line with R.A. 6969 and the Basel Convention, especially since there were moves from the prosecutor and the owner of the container vans to allow the disposition of the garbage locally," explained Rene Pineda of the EcoWaste Coalition, one of the intervenors.

“We fear that such moves will gravely affect the health of the populace and the environment,” he said.

"Once we are part of the case and with the help of the court, we hope to make sure that the executive agencies, particularly the Bureau of Customs, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Department of Foreign Affairs will be transparent on their actions and more importantly ensure that no more imported trash from Canada will be disposed of anywhere in the country," he added.

The intervening groups and individuals believed that their collective action to oppose foreign waste disposal into the national territory is in accordance with Sections 15 and 16 of Article 2 of the 1987 Constitution.

Sections 15 provides that "the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them,” while Section 16 provides states that “the State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology."

Allowing the disposal of Canada’s garbage in local landfills or other facilities will undoubtedly set a very bad example that will put human and ecological health at risk and should be resisted,  the intervenors said.

Meanwhile, senior statesman Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., former Senate president, recently stated that “the Philippines is not a garbage dump of Canada or any country for that matter.” 

“Tarlac government units are right and they should be commended for asserting their constituents’ human right to clean air and environment,” he said. 

Pimentel was referring to the successful action by the Tarlac local authorities to investigate and stop the further dumping of Canadian trash in the town of Capas.


11 August 2015

Makati LGU Urged to Crack Down on Illegal Trade of Dangerous Cosmetics and Slimming Products in Guadalupe

A watchdog group espousing the public health and the environment today urged Makati Acting Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña to come down hard on vendors of banned cosmetics and weight-loss products in Guadalupe.

The EcoWaste Coalition brought the illegal trade to Peña’s attention through a letter faxed and e-mailed to his office and to the Makati Health Department along with the photo evidence.

Based on the market surveillance conducted by the group yesterday, seven beauty and herbal vendors renting store space at the Guadalupe Commercial Complex and U-Mec Supermarket were found to be selling skin whitening creams and slimming goods banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“To curb this illegal trade of dangerous consumer products that had no FDA notification, we request the Makati LGU to  seize the unregistered items, issue formal warning against non-compliant vendors and/or shut retail outlets engaged in such illicit business,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“The LGU’s immediate action will protect consumers from Makati, Pateros, Taguig and other LGUs who pass by Guadalupe to catch their ride or to shop from being duped by unscrupulous traders,” he said.

Among the FDA-prohibited cosmetics that can be purchased in Guadalupe are Erna, Jiaoli and S’zitang skin whitening creams that had been banned due to their high mercury content.

Mercury-laced cosmetics can expose users and even non-users to this toxic metal that can cause damage to the skin, kidneys and the nervous systems and hinder healthy brain development of unborn and very young children. 

Among the anti-obesity or weight-loss products being sold in the area are Brazilian Slimming Coffee,  Leisure 18 Slimming Coffee and Leisure Burn Body Fat Orange Juice, which the FDA had banned for containing unauthorized ingredients such as amphetamine, sibutramine and steroids.

The intake of sibutramine, in particular, has been associated with increased risk of serious heart events such as heart attack and stroke.

Vendors were also found selling other unregistered slimming products that are banned in Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore such as Curvy Pearl Beauty Slimming Orange Juice, Brazilian 7 Days Slimming Coffee, Body Beauty 5 Days Slimming Coffee, Leisure 18 Slimming Mango Juice, and Leisure 18 Slimming Orange Juice.

Makati and other LGUs, the EcoWaste Coalition stressed, has a strategic role in ensuring that health directives from the FDA and other national government agencies are enforced to promote and protect the public health and safety.

“With the collaboration of the LGUs, it’s possible to cut back on this unlawful trade and consumption of contraband goods that can cause adverse effects to human health and the environment,” the group said.


Banned Skin Whitening Creams:

Banned Slimming Products:

10 August 2015

“Father of the Local Government Code” Weighs In On Canada Garbage Controversy

A senior statesman acknowledged as the “Father of the Local Government Code” has added his voice to the never-ending chorus of protest over the dumping of illegal garbage imports from Canada.

Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr., former Senate president and principal author of Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, insisted that our country is not a dumpsite for other nations’ rubbish and that local government units (LGUs) are right in exercising their powers to prevent such wrongful act.

“The Philippines is not a garbage dump of Canada or any country for that matter,” the seasoned politician stated through a text message sent to the EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental watchdog group. 

“Tarlac government units are right and they should be commended for asserting their constituents’ human right to clean air and environment,” he said.

Pimentel was referring to the successful action by the Tarlac local authorities to investigate and stop the further dumping of reeking Canadian trash in a privately-owned landfill facility in the town of Capas.

At the investigation presided over by Vice Governor Enrique Cojuangco, Jr. last July 16, the EcoWaste Coalition told the provincial board that “dumping from overseas undermines our ongoing efforts to reduce the volume and toxicity of our own garbage, projected to reach 39,422 tons per day this year.”  

“With the enormous financial and technical resources at its command, Canada should have no problem managing its used diapers, electronic junks, plastic scraps and other wastes in its own soil instead of shipping them to our shores for disposal,” Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition said in her intervention.  

Following the investigation, the Tarlac Provincial Board on July 24 passed Resolution 056-2015 “demanding for the immediate rescission/cancellation of the contract between the Bureau of Customs and Metro Clark Waste Management Corp. relative to the dumping of the garbage from Canada in Kalangitan  Landfill in Capas, Tarlac.”

“We want to categorically state that the provincial government is against the dumping of any foreign waste in any part of Tarlac,” stated presiding officer Cojuangco after the board unanimously adopted the resolution.

After Tarlac said no to imported garbage, the EcoWaste Coalition quickly asked LGUs hosting landfills, as well as cement plants using garbage as fuel, to be on their toes as customs officials scurry for alternative disposal sites for the Canadian trash.

Like Tarlac, the group insisted that other LGUs should block foreign waste disposal in their jurisdiction in accordance with Section 16 of the Local Government Code, which empowers LGUs to act to promote the general welfare, including the right of the people to health and safety and to a balanced ecology.


08 August 2015

Environmental Watchdog Lauds University Action vs Toxic Lead, Mercury

The EcoWaste Coalition, a zero waste advocacy group promoting safe chemicals policies and practices, commended De La Salle University - Dasmariñas (DLSU-D) for its newest effort to
further “green” the school environment.

DLSU-D through its Environmental Resources Management Center (ERMaC) has crafted a university-wide policy for managing the purchase and use of chemical products and services, and other hazardous substances.

The policy, among other things, provides for the non-procurement of products containing mercury, and the purchase of lead-safe certified paints.

Lead and mercury are among the top “10 chemicals of major public health concern” according to the World Health Organization.

ERMaC Director Marlon Pareja explained that "this policy stems from the Lasallian community's commitment to promote environmental consciousness and action by integrating sustainable practices into our operations, including toxics use reduction."

“We laud DLSU-D’s latest bid to curb potential sources of toxic pollution within its campus by disallowing the purchase of lead-containing paints and mercury-containing products,” stated Thony
Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Such policy is consistent with the “Lead and Mercury Safe Schools for Bright and Healthy Children” statement signed by Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje and other officials in June 2014, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“We agree to promote and uphold ‘Lead and Mercury Safe Schools,' particularly by using lead-safe paints and reducing lead paint hazards to contain and minimize hazardous dust, and by switching to
mercury-free alternatives towards a toxics-free, zero waste educational system,” the statement said.

DLSU-D’s policy covers chemical products used in, but not limited to, housekeeping, painting, insect and pest control, and other activities that would require use of chemicals and other hazardous substances.

However, chemicals used in the laboratories are not covered since these are sanctioned by other government policies.

In evaluating chemical products and services and hazardous substances, DLSU-D shall choose the option with minimal environmental impact and least hazardous to human health and other living organisms.

“DLSU-D is indeed way ahead of the pack in terms of promoting sustainable practices,” observed Dizon.

In 2011, DLSU-D banned the entry and use of plastic bags in campus to reduce the production of non-biodegradable waste.  The following year, it banned plastic drinking straws.

In recognition of its work to promote sustainability, the DLSU-D in 2013 received the ECOSWITCH Planet Award for Waste Minimization from the Green Philippines Islands of Sustainability (GPIoS) project, funded by the European Union's SWITCH-Asia program.





07 August 2015

Manila Seizes Expired Food Products in Quiapo (Watchdog calls for more frequent inspections to promote strict compliance to Food Safety Act)

Sanitation inspectors confiscated 25 categories of expired, misbranded and tampered food products that are sold illegally in Quiapo, Manila.

Responding to the complaint filed by the EcoWaste Coalition, a health and environmental watchdog group, representatives of the District Health Office III of the Manila Health Department conducted the inspection last Wednesday in coordination with the Manila Police District Station.

In his report to City Health Officer Benjamin Yson, Sanitary Inspector Ivy Casono stated that vendor Tita Corpus Valdez, 67, was found selling expired, misbranded and tampered items at her makeshift store along Villalobos St.

Valdez failed to produce any product registration, receipt or invoice from factories, supermarkets or distributors at the time of the inspection.

Among the items seized were hundreds of candies, energy bars, preserved fruits, sauces and other processed foods, including unlabelled canned goods.

Vendors were told to stop the illegal sale of expired goods or the face the penal consequences for such act, Casono reported to Yson.

The EcoWaste Coalition earlier wrote to Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada to complain about the illegal activity that it uncovered through its market surveillance to track hazardous products and wastes and promote awareness and action among consumers and regulators.

City Administrator Ericson Alcovendaz referred the complaint to  Yson for “immediate action.”

“Manila’s action will help in preventing potential food poisoning cases due to the intake of food and beverage items with torn labels, dented packaging, and tampered expiry dates that may be unfit for human consumption,” noted  Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect. 

“We hope that the city health authorities will conduct more frequent inspections to promote strict compliance to food safety regulations,” he added.

“As verbal warning is not enough to ensure compliance, we urge the authorities to charge wrongdoers and seek maximum penalties under the law,” he added.

Section 37 of Republic Act 10611, or the Food Safety Act, states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to adulterate, misbrand, mislabel, falsely advertise any food product which misleads the consumers and carry out any other acts contrary to good manufacturing practices”

Under the said law, any person found violating any provision of the Food Safety Act, for the first conviction, shall suffer the following penalty: “A fine of not less than Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) but not more than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) and suspension of appropriate authorization for one (1) month shall be imposed.”  

The law further provides that “if the offender does not have the appropriate authorization, the imposable fines shall be doubled.”




05 August 2015

Groups Welcome Governor’s Stance vs Canada Garbage Disposal in Bulacan

Environmental groups welcomed the statement made by the chief executive of Bulacan saying that the dumping of illegally imported trash from Canada will not be allowed in local landfills.

The Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc. and the EcoWaste Coalition cited Governor Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado for disallowing the use of landfill facilities in Norzagaray and Obando, Bulacan for the controversial garbage imports from Canada after Tarlac barred their further disposal in Capas landfill.

“It will be totally disrespectful and outrageous  if Canada’s garbage is sent to Bulacan for disposal.  Governor Alvarado is right in rejecting such a move,” said Bro. Martin Francisco, Chairperson of the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society, Inc. 

 “The people of Bulacan fervently pray that such rejection would be permanent and would apply to all imported trash,” he added.

Aileen Lucero, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition, said that “Bulacan and other provinces hosting waste disposal facilities should not be saddled with garbage illegally brought to our shores that could pose health risks to our workers and communities.”  

“Like what the Tarlac Provincial Board did, we hope that Bulacan and other concerned local government units (LGUs) will adopt formal declarations and measures prohibiting the disposal of foreign wastes into their territories,” she suggested.

“As Bulacan is home to major cement factories, it’s necessary for such a ban to cover the use of foreign wastes as alternative fuels for cement kilns,” she said. 

Citing Section 16 of Republic Act 7160 (Local Government Code), Lucero said that “every LGU shall exercise the powers…which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare.”  

R.A. 7160 further provides that “within their respective territorial jurisdictions, LGUs shall… promote health and safety (and) enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology.” 




EcoWaste Coalition Advises Parents to Keep PVC Plastic Accessories Out of Children’s Reach and Mouth

It is okay for young children to look at pretty accessories made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, but not for them to put these cute items into their mouths.

The EcoWaste Coalition, a watchdog group promoting chemical safety and zero waste, issued this precautionary statement after finding PVC plastic accessories featuring popular super heroes and cartoon figures laden with toxic lead.

“Our latest investigation shows that clip bookmarks, key chains, bag or luggage tags and sanitizer bottle covers with PVC plastic embellishments may pose a health risk due to their high lead content and should carry warning labels,” said Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

“These items are potentially dangerous, especially if their attractive, colorful and soft PVC adornments get into the hands and into the mouth of a curious baby, toddler or kid,” he said.

The samples were obtained from retailers at 168, 999, Lucky Chinatown and Tutuban shopping malls in Divisoria, Manila in test buys conducted last weekend.

Out of 50 product samples, only nine had either low or non-detectable lead levels, while 41 had lead between 247 to 5,575 parts per million (ppm), way above the 100 ppm total lead content limit for accessible parts of children’s products under the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act.  

Out of 41 lead-containing samples, 26 had lead above 1,000 ppm as measured by a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) screening device.
High lead levels were detected on a “Thor” bag tag with 5,575 ppm, an “Iron Man” bag tag with 4,395 ppm, a “dolphin” clip bookmark with 4,256 ppm, a “Minion” sanitizer bottle cover with 3,893 ppm, an “Angry Bird” clip bookmark with 3,682 ppm and a “Batman” key chain with 2,760 ppm.

Lead, one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern according to the World Health Organization, can cause permanent damage to children’s developing brains and central nervous system if ingested or inhaled even at low levels of exposure .  

“Being made of PVC plastic, it’s also likely that these samples may contain other hazardous chemical stabilizers and softeners that are not known to consumers due to lack of chemical in products labeling information,” Dizon said.

“Lead and all these chemical additives can leak out of the plastic material and be absorbed by innocent children chewing on them,” he added.

 To avoid exposure to lead and other chemical additives in PVC plastic accessories, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers to avoid plastic products bearing the number “3” or the letters “PVC” or the word “vinyl.”

To encourage manufacturers’ compliance to the government’s Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, which prohibits the use of lead in the production of school supplies and toys, the group advised safety-conscious consumers to go for duly-labeled and registered non-toxic children's products. 

The group further advised the public to dispose of unwanted PVC products with caution, stressing that burning PVC plastic waste will cause the release of extremely harmful environmental pollutants such as dioxins and furans, which belong to some of the most toxic chemicals known to science.