As the nation prepares to mark the 30th anniversary of EDSA I, a chemical safety and zero waste advocacy group rallied the Filipino people to back politicians who will protect the public health and the environment from the ills of dumping.
“We need ‘people power’ to elect local and national leaders who will stem the tide of dumping that is polluting our communities and ecosystems with wastes and toxics,” said Sonia Mendoza, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
“As the campaign season heats up, we ask the electorate to be more discerning and use the power of the ballot to beat the widespread dumping that is not only defiling our surroundings, but also causing immeasurable harm to our fragile environment,” she emphasized.
“We need leaders who will take up the cudgels for the people and the environment and who will seriously enforce waste and pollution prevention and control, which is at the core of Republic Act 9003,” she said.
Mendoza lamented that despite the enactment in 2000 of R.A. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, hundreds of illegal open and controlled dumpsites continue to operate across the archipelago.
Citing data from the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), the EcoWaste Coalition bewailed that 399 open dumpsites and 178 controlled dumpsites are operating all over the country where portions of the 40,087 tons of waste generated daily go.
This dreadful situation prompted the filing by Romy Hidalgo, NGO Representative at the NSWMC, last February 10 of 50 complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman, involving close to 600 local government officials from 13 regions, for violations of R.A. 9003, including the failure to close and rehabilitate dumpsites.
“The dumping of foreign waste such as those from Canada has aggravated this situation as if we did not have enough trash to handle and solve,” said Rene Pineda, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.
Aside from local and foreign waste dumping, the EcoWaste Coalition deplored the dumping of dangerous goods in the country’s ports that ultimately find their way to Divisoria and to millions of households.
Toys that are not safe for kids to play with, low-quality consumer electronics laden with hazardous substances, unregistered cosmetics laced with lead, mercury and other harmful ingredients and weight-loss products with unauthorized drugs are examples of such dangerous goods, the group said.
“People power,” the EcoWaste Coalition believed, would play a pivotal role in curbing, if not eradicating, the problems associated with dumping.
The group clarified that “people power” is not limited to holding huge protest assemblies.
“It can be expressed in many forms – from boycotting products with excessive packaging to using ‘bayong’ to shop, from segregating discards at source and not littering to drastically reducing what you throw by recycling and composting, from shifting to safer chemical and non-chemical alternatives to demanding transparency and accountability from governmental agencies and businesses, and to provoking political change through the ballots,” the EcoWaste Coalition said.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a member of the Green Thumb Coalition, is a strong advocate for chemical safety and zero waste in the ongoing campaign for the May polls.