Environmental advocates, DENR, UNIDO spearhead run for toxic-free Philippines
In time for the Philippine Environment Month, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), joined by environmental advocates from EcoWaste Coalition, led participants in today’s advocacy run, dubbed as PCB-free EnviRUNment: Onward to a Toxic-Free Philippines, in Intramuros, Manila.
Famed environmental activist Fr. Robert Reyes, known as the Running Priest, also joined the run to signify his support to efforts for the safe management of the country’s stockpiles of PCBs, in compliance to our obligation to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).
Flashing a huge banner and placards bearing messages “Onward to a PCB-Free Philippines”, “Support Safe PCB Management”, and “Go PCB-Free”, the group ran along Sta Lucia St. from Puerta Real Gardens toward Fort Santiago where they made a turn back to Puerta Real via Gen. Luna St. to promote the country’s efforts to safely manage PCBs.
PCBs refers to polychlorinated biphenyls, which are oils widely used as dielectric fluids in old transformers and capacitors. The highly toxic chemicals were banned from use before the 1980s due to their toxicity and characteristics as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), though many of which remain in use today.
According to Dr. Carmela Centeno, UNIDO Headquarters in Vienna, Austria, “DENR has been a very strong partner of UNIDO in the implementation of the project, especially in terms of the technical preparations towards the phase out of PCBs in the Philippines.”
“This fun run is just one of the awareness activities that we are organizing together with various government agencies, civil society organizations, and private sector partners under the Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project,” Centeno added.
Furthermore, UNIDO Philippines Country Representative Ms. Tonilyn Lim stated that the environmentally-sound management of chemicals and wastes, such as PCBs and electronic wastes, will continue to be a significant part of UNIDO’s work in the Philippines.
“This fun run shows the commitment of partners and highlights the need for local action, with the vigilance of the citizenry in eliminating toxins from our cities and our homes,” Lim said.
For her part, Sonia Mendoza, Chairman of Mother Earth Foundation and Treasurer of EcoWaste Coalition, maintained that “double efforts should be exerted by the government through the DENR-EMB in ensuring that practically all the country’s PCB stockpiles are safely stored, handled, and destroyed without resorting to combustion whether in or out of the country.”
The project aims to safely eliminate about 600 tons of PCBs through a non-combustion treatment facility owned by DENR-EMB in Mariveles, Bataan.
Among the partners of the Safe PCB and E-Waste Management Project are the National Electrification Administration, Natural Resources Development Corporation, Development Bank of the Philippines, Integrated Recycling Industries, and Cebu Common Treatment Facility Incorporated.
The advocacy run was similarly supported by the Intramuros Administration, Philippine Red Cross – Manila Chapter, and KAISA-Nagkakaisang Iskolar para sa Pamantasan at Sambayanan.
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