Mayor Erap Urged to Enforce Manila City Ordinance 8178 Banning Cyanide-Containing Silver Jewelry Cleaner

A toxics watchdog today appealed to Mayor Joseph Estrada to enforce a 2008 city ordinance prohibiting the sale of deadly cyanide-laced silver jewelry cleaner in Manila.

The EcoWaste Coalition issued the appeal in response to the latest case of silver jewelry poisoning that killed 16-year old Alfred G. Cardeño, a B.S. Education freshman at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).
Through a letter sent to his office today, the EcoWaste Coalition reported the heartbreaking death of Cardeño, a resident of 1263 Tambunting St., Barangay 373, Zone 38, Sta. Cruz, Manila, after drinking toxic silver jewelry cleaner last September 22 at the toilet of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Tayuman St.

The poisonous silver cleaner was reportedly obtained from Divisoria according to Cardeño’s  mother Maria Theresa whom the EcoWaste Coalition met this morning.

Cardeño, a full scholar at PLM, graduated with honors at the Lakandula High School and was a former scholar of Caritas de Manila, according to his mother.  He just turned 16 last 15 September 2015.

“His death has reminded us of the tragic death of another young Manileña, Kristel Tejada, due to the fatal ingestion of silver cleaner in 2013 at her home in Tondo,” Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect, told Estrada.  

Tejada, like Cardeño, was 16 years old at the time of her death and a freshman student at the University of the Philippines-Manila.

“These tragic deaths could have been avoided if Manila City Ordinance 8178 enacted in 2008 is duly enforced,” Dizon said. 

The said ordinance bans the retail sale of all metal and jewelry cleaners containing cyanide and penalizes such act.  According to the ordinance, “all firms, traders, retailers and similar establishments are prohibited to sell in retail, produce, manufacture, repack and buy metal and jewelry cleaning materials containing cyanide.”

In view of this latest poisoning incident, the EcoWaste Coalition appealed to Estrada to cause the faithful implementation Ordinance 8178 in the entire City of Manila to stop the unlawful sale of highly toxic silver cleaners that have claimed the lives of Cardeño, Tejada and many others.

“Your swift action will help save lives,” Dizon told Estrada.  

“We request your office to please instruct the Manila Health Department to conduct all-out law enforcement operations, with the support of the local police, in major commercial hubs like Divisoria and Quiapo to stop the said illegal trade,” he added. 

While the  city's health and sanitation officers conduct sustained law enforcement operations, the EcoWaste Coalition also urged the City Council to seek an urgent amendment to the penalty clause of Ordinance 8178.

The ordinance currently imposes a fine of only P5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both, to violators.  

“The threat of a stiffer fine and a longer jail sentence, we believe, will discourage unscrupulous businesses and individuals from engaging in such deadly trade,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.