30 September 2008

Green Campaigners Urge High-Tech Industry to Clean Up

MANILA, Philippines- A visiting expert from Silicon Valley, the famed high-tech hub located in
northern California, sounded the alarm bell over the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the global electronics industry.

In a forum organized yesterday by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Ted Smith, founder of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, disproved the “clean image” of the high-tech industry.

Speaking before an enthusiastic crowd of environmental and health campaigners, Smith, who is also the co-editor of the book “Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry,” presented an overview of the impacts of electronics manufacturing on workers and local environments across the planet.

“From Silicon Valley in California to Silicon Glen in Scotland, from Silicon Island in Taiwan to Silicon Paddy in China, the social, economic, and ecological effects of the international electronics industry are widespread. The production of electronic and computer components contaminate air, land, and water around the globe. Unfortunately, the people who suffer the consequences are largely poor, female, immigrant, and minority,” Smith said.

Contrary to high tech's clean image, Smith cited examples that illustrate the industry's environmental and economic downsides from its birthplace of Silicon Valley to the four corners of the globe to which the industry recently has spread, including the use of toxic materials in the
manufacture of computers and other electronics and their adverse impacts to workers’ occupational health and safety.

Among the toxics commonly used in computers include solvents to make chips, disk drives, and other parts, lead and cadmium in circuit boards, lead and barium in monitors, brominated flame retardants on printed circuit boards, cables and plastic casing, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) casings and mercury in switches and flat screens. Over 1,000 chemicals are actually used in computer production.

“Semiconductor workers experience illness rates three times greater than manufacturing workers in other industries. In three epidemiological studies, women who worked in fabrication rooms were found to have rates of miscarriage of 40% or more above non-manufacturing workers. In fact, Silicon Valley has more EPA Superfund sites than any other area in the
USA,” Smith pointed out.

During the forum, Smith were joined by local campaigners in drawing attention over the dirty recycling and disposal of electronic waste or e-waste, which include discarded electronic devices such as personal computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), mp3 players, video cassette recorders (VCRs), cellular phones, television sets and many other electronic products.

"In order to avoid liabilities associated with the continuing generation of e-waste, companies have to institute individual take-back programs and provide incentives for the safe recovery and recycling of discarded electronic materials. More importantly, the electronics industry has to
ensure that toxic substances are removed and replaced with safer substitutes throughout their supply chain and production processes.

This is where innovation in the industry is most needed," stated Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, a member of the EcoWaste Coalition.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376

28 September 2008

Groups Push for Zero Budget for Rusting Incinerators

Quezon City. The Philippines could get its children out of waste dumps and into schools with the almost P100 million that would be saved if Congress denies the budget allocation for useless medical waste incinerators.

The Stop Toxic Debt (STD) campaign led by the EcoWaste Coalition and the Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) underscored this glaring fact as Congress resumes deliberations on the proposed P1.4 trillion General Appropriations Act for 2009.

To put their message across, STD partners from various community and environmental groups assembled in front of the Philippine Heart Center and unveiled a huge banner calling for “Zero Budget for Incinerators.” Youth members of the Malayang Sining Community Theater (Mascomthea) highlighted the action as they mimed and strutted with brightly-painted faces bearing the word “zero.”

“The ongoing budget deliberations offer our lawmakers the chance to correct a toxic blunder that saw polluting incinerators being shipped and dumped into the Philippines, adding to our nation’s pollution and debt woes,” Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) said. “Strike out the incinerator loan repayment and use the money to support alternative livelihood for adults and kids who scour the dumps and bins for recyclables and even food,” he proposed.

There are some 150,000 waste pickers in Metro Manila, including children who should be in schools. A 2004 study by the EcoWaste Coalition and GAIA shows that child waste pickers are most vulnerable to harm from repeated exposure to toxic chemicals and occupational health risks.

“It’s outrageous that taxpayer’s money is being spent on junk, instead of helping meet the essential needs of Filipinos. There is just no way that this immoral and anomalous deal can be justified. We urge the Philippine and Austrian governments to do the right thing and revoke this unconscionable wasting of resources,” Von Hernandez of Greenpeace Southeast Asia stated.

The P503.65-million “Austria Medical Waste Project” loan agreement between the governments of Austria and the Philippines was signed in 1996 during the administration of then President Fidel V. Ramos, “to improve the sanitary situation in hospitals.”

The project included the shipment and installation of medical waste incinerators and disinfection units for 26 government hospitals. Subsequent testing found these incinerators extremely polluting and exceeding national as well as international standards for major pollutants such as dioxin, the most notorious byproduct of waste incineration.

The incinerators were later decommissioned in 2003 with the mandated phase out of waste incinerators for replacement with environmentally-sound and safe non-burn technologies under the Clean Air Act. A report released in 2007 by the EcoWaste Coalition and Health Care Without Harm confirms that recipient hospitals have either decommissioned or dismantled their

The loan financed by the Bank Austria was to be paid in 24 semi-annual payments. To date, the Philippines has paid over $14-million for the principal amortization and interest payment of 4% per annum. By the time the loan matures in 2014, the Philippines will have paid a whopping $26-million for the package originally priced at P503.65 million.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376


25 September 2008

Ternateňos March Across Town to Denounce Landfill Project

TERNATE, Cavite - More than 4,000 residents, students, teachers, parents, non-government organizations and lay persons from Ternate, Cavite and nearby municipalities marched in the town streets to denounce the construction of the proposed provincial landfill for Cavite within their watershed area.

We are in the streets to express our disappointment and outrage for the failure of our local leaders to uphold the will of the people. How can they approve the construction of this toxic facility even though they are fully aware that Ternateňos vehemently oppose this landfill project?” said Analiza Vallesfin of the multi-sectoral group Ternate Against Landfill Association (TALA).

The protestors condemned the resolution issued by the six members of the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) of Ternate last September 4, 2008 that allows the construction of the landfill in Ternate. The remaining SB members and the Vice Mayor Ternate opposed the said project and they didn’t vote. Mayor Conrado Lindo, the number one opponent of the said landfill project three months ago, hastily approved the said ordinance last September 8.

But as attested by SB Member Jayson Cabaña, one of the local leaders who opposed the proposed landfill project, “There is no showing or proof that there was first a roll call made of the members present and then a determination of the requisite quorum by the Secretary upon inquiry by the Temporary Presiding Officer, prior to the holding of and proceeding with the so-called regular session on September 04, 2008, when and where the subject Resolution was supposedly passed.”

The huge crowd marched on the streets of Ternate and visited the houses of the six SB members and Mayor Lindo. They held a small program and prayed for the said local leaders. The protestors then proceeded to the municipal hall of Ternate and Sto. Nino Parish Church for the main program.

The proposed “sanitary” landfill measuring 8-hectares will be built in Barangay Sapang I, a site identified by the Local Water Utilities Authority (LUWA) as part of the ground water basin area of the town. The landfill is also within the buffer zone of Mt. Palay palay/ Mataas na Gulod Natural Park, home to some of the country's endemic and endangered species of fauna and flora such as the rufous hornbill, Luzon bleeding heart and Philippine woodland frog.

The proposed landfill will cater to mixed wastes from the different municipalities and cities of the province. It is being spearheaded by Cavite Governor Ayong Maliksi and EnvironSave, the private company who will build and operate the said facility.

This facility will contaminate our groundwater and pollute our environment. We do not want our children to live in this kind of environment. We will oppose this waste disposal facility until the very end,” said Vallesfin.

Our leaders should not resort to quick but expensive and destructive solutions to garbage woes. Landfills are failed technologies and breed the same corruption that fuels the expensive collect and dump waste management system,” said Ochie Tolentino, coordinator of the Cavite Green Coalition and a member of Task Force Dumps of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Tolentino exampled the recent toxic leachate dumping incident in Montalban Sanitary Landfill that leads to further contamination of the Montalban River. The said facility has an environmental clearance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and it is considered as a “model” sanitary landfill.

There have been advances towards zero waste as shown by various cities and municipalities around the country. All it takes is the political will and eagerness of our leaders to capacitate their barangays and stakeholders to implement ecological solid waste management,” said Tolentino.

For more information, please contact Analiza Vallesfin of TALA at 0917-5039900, Ochie Tolentino at 0918-4221769 or the EcoWaste Coalition at 9290376.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376

20 September 2008

EcoGroups Holds Atienza, Manda and Ynares Accountable for Leachate Dumping

QUEZON CITY, Philippines- The pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition hits the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Laguna Lake Development Authority and the local government of Rizal for what they view as gross negligence that caused the dumping of toxic leachate from the provincial landfill into the Montalban river.

“Under the principle of command responsibility, Environment Secretary Lito Atienza, General Manager Edgardo Manda and Governor Casimiro Ynares III should be held accountable for the criminal act committed by the landfill operator against the environment,” Romeo Hidalgo of the Task Force Dumps/Landfill of the EcoWaste Coalition said.

“In the first place, the polluting waste disposal facility situated in an environmentally critical area should not have been built at all and given a controversial environmental compliance certificate,” Hidalgo stressed.

The Rizal provincial landfill is located inside a protected area under Proclamation1636, encompassing the mountains of Rizal, Laguna and Quezon. Protected areas are supposed to be protected from destructive and polluting activities that can badly affect the biodiversity.

The dumping of toxic leachate into the Montalban River, which was caught on video and later aired in major TV programs, is a rock-solid indictment of landfilling as a failed technology for managing discards, according to the EcoWaste Coalition.

“What we saw on TV is a willful intent on the part of the landfill operator to circumvent the law that requires it to put in place a functional leachate treatment system to mitigate potential contamination of the soil and the surface and ground water,” the EcoWaste Coalition observed.

A 2004 study on solid waste management in Metro Manila by the Asian Development Bank shows that leachate samples from the old Montalban and Payatas dumps contain high levels of contaminants, including heavy metals and fecal coliform that pose enormous risk to human health.

The incident, the EcoWaste Coalition said, should lead to a national inventory and evaluation, with civil society participation, on how waste disposal facilities comply with their ECC and permit conditions and the prosecution of those violating the requirements.

The incident should also serve as a wake-up call to Metro Manila mayors and residents about the necessity of addressing the persistent garbage of the metropolis through proactive waste prevention, reduction, segregation, recycling and composting programs.

“This ongoing practice of dumping Metro Manila’s discards in neighboring provinces is a denial of the rural people’s right to live in a pollution-free environment and has to be discontinued,’ the EcoWaste Coalition noted.

The EcoWaste Coalition believes that a genuine implementation of the basic requirements of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act can divert as high as 60% or more of municipal garbage out of dumpsand incinerators.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376

17 September 2008

Statement on the Alleged "Death" of House Bill 3364 on Picture-Based Health Warning in Tobacco Products

17 September 2008- The EcoWaste Coalition, a public interest network of groups working towards Zero Waste, chemical safety and toxics-free environment, is deeply saddened by the statement made by Hon. Rep. Eric Singson that “the bill is dead.” If this is true, we challenge our lawmakers, particularly the members of the House Committee on Health, to raise H.B. 3364 from the dead and prove to the Filipinos and to the entire world that the Congress has power over the tobacco pandemic.

Kung patay na ang House Bill 3364, hinahamon namin ang Kongreso na sagipin ito at bigyan ng CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) at tiyaking maipapasa ito sa lalong madaling panahon.

The visual health warnings on tobacco products as proposed under H.B. 3364 totally adhere with the overall objective of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which is “to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.”

As party to the Convention, we challenge the Government of the Philippines, particularly the House of Representatives and the Senate, to speed up the passage of the bill that will inform all Filipinos, especially the children and youth, about the addictive characteristics, health costs and threats to life caused by tobacco consumption and exposure to second-hand smoke through graphic visual warnings.

Sa pamamagitan ng mga litratong babala sa magkabilang bahagi ng kaha ng sigarilyo ay mabilis at epektibong maipapaalam sa ating mamamayan, laluna sa mga kabataan, ang masamang epekto ng paninigarilyo sa naninigarilyo at sa mga tao sa kanyang paligid.

Furthermore, we ask the Government to attend to the concerns of tobacco farmers, workers, and sellers by promoting and supporting economically viable alternatives in line with Article 17 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

We call on Rep. Singson to cease and desist from attacking the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance of the Philippines (FCAP). As a “representative” not only of the province of Ilocos Sur but of the entire Filipino people to the House of Representatives, we ask Rep. Singson not to hinder the enactment of H.B. 3364 and to redirect his energy for the common good.

Pakiusap po kay Congressman Singson at sa buong Kongreso: Sagipin ang kalusugan at kalikasan. Isabatas na ang litratong babala sa sigarilyo!

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376

Ternateňos Hit Local Officials for Approving Waste Landfill

TERNATE, Cavite- Concerned citizens of Ternate and different ecogroups condemned the decision of local officials to approve and build a proposed provincial landfill for Cavite within the watershed area of this town.

“We are shocked and saddened by the decision of our government leaders. Ternateňos have opposed this project from the very beginning and instead of safeguarding the will of the people, our leaders chose to be deaf and continue to pursue this environmentally-destructive project,” said Engr. Ronaldo de Vera of the multi-sectoral Ternate Against Landfill Association (TALA).

The proposed 'sanitary' landfill will be built in Barangay Sapang I, a site identified by the Local Water Utilities Authority (LUWA) as part of the ground water basin area of the town. The landfill is also within the buffer zone of Mt. Palay palay/ Mataas na Gulod Natural Park, home to some of the country's endemic and endangered species of fauna and flora.

The proposed landfill will cater to mixed wastes from the different municipalities and cities of the province. It is being spearheaded by Cavite Governor Ayong Maliksi and EnvironSave, the private company who will build and operate the said facility.

Opposition of the residents of Ternate on the said waste disposal facility has been very evident in past public consultations for the said waste disposal project, the latest of which was called for by the Sangguniang Bayan (SB) last August 27, 2008.

More than 300 residents, youth, teachers and students of Ternate and nearby towns trooped to the town's covered court to express their opposition to the local officials who facilitated the said public consultation which includes Ternate Mayor Conrado Lindo.

“We also gave them copies of petitions signed by more than 12,000 residents of Ternate,” said de Vera.

Despite of this, SB passed a resolution approving the landfill project on September 4 and this was hastily signed by Lindo last September 8. Three months ago, Mayor Lindo was the number one opponent of the said landfill project.

“Landfills are failed technologies and it is not an ecological solution to garbage woes. It produces toxic chemicals such as leachate and will contaminate the ground and surface water. Waste disposal facilities are also major contributors of methane gas which significantly increase global warming,” said Ochie Tolentino, coordinator of the Cavite Green Coalition.

“Landfills are a private business with millions of investments. To recover the cost and earn profit, landfill operators need more garbage. Escape of toxic substance may come either through negligence, non-compliance of the operator or natural deterioration of the facility,” said Tolentino.

“Instead of continuously adopting quick, expensive but destructive solutions to garbage such as collect-and-dump management, local leaders should start capacitating their barangays and stakeholders to implement ecological solid waste management. Decentralization of management and segregation at source are the key factors as shown by hundreds of cities and municipalities around the world that gained major steps towards advancing zero waste solutions,” said Rei Panaligan, coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our local leaders failed us but we will continue to oppose this project to ensure that our children will continue to live in a healthy environment,” said de Vera.

For more information, please contact Engr. Ronaldo de Vera of TALA at 0916-6917477 or Rei of the EcoWaste Coalition at 9290376 or 0920-9062348.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376

15 September 2008

EcoWaste Coalition Supports Stern Action vs Smuggling of Ozone Depleting Substances

Quezon City. As the nation marks the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer tomorrow, a waste and pollution watchdog expressed support for stringent measures that will thwart the smuggling of ozone depleting substances (ODS) into the country’s ports.

In a statement issued to mark the historic signing of the Montreal Protocol on ODS on September 16, 1987, the EcoWaste Coalition slammed the illicit trade in ODS as a “direct assault” against the fragile ozone layer that serves as a protective shield against the detrimental effects of ultraviolet rays.

“The smuggling of ODS by irresponsible traders is a direct assault against the thinning ozone layer,” Manny Calonzo, President of the EcoWaste Coalition, said, warning that “the destruction of ozone molecules can lead to serious health problems, food and agricultural crisis, and the possible annihilation of certain life forms due to harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.”

It will be recalled that during the Senate hearings on the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), the EcoWaste Coalition and other environmental groups firmly opposed the inclusion of ODS and other globally banned or restricted hazardous substances and wastes for tariff elimination under the controversial pact.

The ODS being targeted for global phase out include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used as cooling agent for air-conditioners and refrigerators, as propellant for aerosol sprays and as blowing agent for foam, halons in fire extinguishers, methyl bromide in fumigants, and methyl chloroform and carbon tetrachloride in cleaning solvents.

As a signatory to the Montreal Protocol, the Philippines has committed to phasing out CFCs by 2010 and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by 2040.

The Philippines has accelerated the phase out for methyl bromide by 2009 instead of 2015.

Information gathered from the Philippine Ozone Desk (POD) shows that the country’s consumption of ODS has been steadily decreasing since 1992, enabling the Philippine to impose a total phase out of methyl chloroform in 1997 and certain types of CFCs and halons in 1999.

However, a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released on Earth Day 2008 pointed to the dramatic rise in illegal trade in ODS, particularly the widely-used CFCs, in a number of Asian countries, including the Philippines.

“We recognize and support the sustained efforts by the POD and its partner agencies to comply with our country’s obligations under the Montreal Protocol, including moves to combat dubious shipments of ODS into the Philippines and promote ozone-friendly alternatives,” the EcoWaste.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376

14 September 2008

Pollution Watchdog Renews Call for Garbage Prevention

Quezon City. The carpet of garbage left by typhoon “Marce” at the shore of the picturesque Manila Bay prompted a pollution watchdog to renew its call for waste prevention and reduction in the metropolis.

The EcoWaste Coalition, an environmental network of public interest groups, pressed for the effective enforcement of ecological waste management as various groups prepare to mark the International Coastal Cleanup Day on September 20.

“The huge amount of garbage washed ashore is a sad indicator of our failure to unlearn the environmentally injurious habit of throwing discards anyplace we please despite laws and ordinances outlawing such ugly practice,” observed Ben Galindo of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Sagip Pasig Movement.

“The nonstop ‘plasticization’ of our lifestyle, where almost everything is now packed in disposable plastic, exacerbates the trashing of Manila Bay as this ever-present packing material is unintentionally or knowingly discarded in streets, storm sewers, esteros, rivers and illegal dumps,” he added.

A waste audit conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace in 2006 revealed that plastic discards made up 76% of the floating trash found in Manila Bay, out of which 51% were plastic sando bags. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also disclosed in 2006 that every square mile of the ocean is littered with 46,000 pieces of floating plastic garbage.

The pervasiveness of plastic in the environment, especially in water bodies, should push the government, industry and civil society to adopting policies and measures that will influence consumer behavior and curb plastic use and the ensuing pollution, including conductig public
information drive on plastic and the environment, promoting and providing incentives for the use of eco-friendly alternatives to plastic bags, phasing out certain types of plastic and imposing environmental levy on plastic bags.

The evident plastic pollution, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out, should move the National Solid Waste Management Commission into accelerating the much-delayed identification and phase-out of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging materials as required by Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

In calling for renewed vigilance against excessive use and improper disposal of plastics, the EcoWaste Coalition enumerated 10 steps that consumers can take towards a healthier and safer environment:

1. Go for eco-friendly substitutes to single use plastic disposables.

2. Use bayong, old school bags or any reusable carry bags for shopping.

3. Ask your favorite store to stop the routine practice of dispensing plastic bags by making it a policy to ask the customer first if a plastic bag is required.

4. Avoid products in unnecessary packaging.

5. Work with your family members, neighbors and barangay leaders for better community recycling.

6. Reduce your waste size by separating at source and reusing and recycling more.

7. Do not litter at all times, pick up litter and dispose it correctly.

8. Help in raising community awareness and action against littering and dumping.

9. Pressure local authorities to enforce the law and punish chronic litterers.

10. Participate in community cleanup activities.

“The trashing of Manila Bay and other life-sustaining water bodies has to stop once and for all. Unless we get our acts together, the marine waste and pollution crisis will only worsen and endanger the health and future of humans and other creatures too,” the EcoWaste Coalition warned.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376

09 September 2008

Safer Non-Combustion Technologies for Managing PCBs Presented

Mandaluyong City. Environmentally-sound state of the art technologies can be tapped to safely handle the country’s stockpiles of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) generated mostly by the power industry.

This was the good news from a well-attended seminar held today in Mandaluyong City that featured various technology options for destroying PCB wastes using a non-combustion approach.

Organized mainly by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the seminar brought together technology vendors, scientific and technical experts as well as representatives from the government, the power industry and the civil society.

DENR Assistant Secretary Analiza Teh and UNIDO representative Zhengyou Peng lauded the commitment and support of the various stakeholders to ensure the successful deployment and operation of a non-combustion technology that will help the Philippines comply with its obligations under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and the DENR-issued Chemical Control Order (CCO) for PCBs.

The Stockholm Convention, ratified by the Senate in 2004, bans the production of PCBs and gives countries until 2025 to phase out the use of equipment such as electricity transformers that contain PCBs. The CCO for PCBs issued in 2004 sets a much earlier phase out target by 2014.

At the seminar, technology vendors Bochemie E.S. (Czech Republic), EnvioRecycling (Germany) and Kinetrics (Canada) provided the participants with detailed information about their products that was followed by an extensive discussion on how they fit with the stringent technology

Dr. Martin Murin, UNIDO consultant and coordinator for the non-combustion program, pointed out that the required non-combustion technology for PCBs must, at a minimum, comply with two specific characteristics:

1. The technology must operate in a closed loop system to prevent uncontrolled releases of POPs and other substances of concern, including gas, solid and liquid residues, and avoid periodic upsets that plague incinerators and other open destruction systems.

2. The technology must be capable of achieving total destruction efficiencies (DEs) for POPs and other substances of concern that approach 100% in line with the Stockholm Convention’s goal of reducing “total releases” to all media and “their continuing minimization and where feasible ultimate elimination.”

DENR Environmental Management Bureau Director Julian Amador discussed the regulations and current practices on handling PCBs in the country. Initial inventory shows that the Philippines has 6,879 tonnes of PCB-containing equipment and wastes comprising about 2,400 tonnes of PCBs oil that require environmentally-sound management and disposal.

Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the non-combustion project for destroying PCBs has the UNIDO as the implementing agency, DENR as the national executing agency and PNOC Alternative Fuels Corp. as the operating entity.

The private sector partners for the project include MERALCO, National Power Corp. and the National Transmission Corp, among other players in the power industry, while the public sector partners are represented by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Greenpeace Southeast Asia and the Environmental Health Fund.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376

08 September 2008

JPEPA is Poison to Filipinos, said Groups

PASAY CITY– On the eve of the second-year anniversary of the signing of the controversial bilateral and investments treaty between Japan and the Philippines, popularly known as the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), members of the multi-sectoral group Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition (MJJC), trooped to the Japanese Embassy to express their outrage over the poisonous treaty that Japan is forcing the Philippines to ratify.

At the front gates of the embassy, three activists donning masks of Pres. Arroyo and Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Mar Roxas stand behind an ominous black cauldron marked JPEPA. Two of the activists slowly stir the contents of the cauldron, while another continues to pour poison into the mix, while brandishing a Japanese flag. The tableau signifies the continued efforts by the Philippine government and Japan to hide the real nature of JPEPA.

For two years the Arroyo Administration with the support of the Japanese government has tried to get JPEPA ratified, and have failed. One of several serious issues surrounding JPEPA is the patent unconstitutionality of the treaty.
Last Tuesday, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago distributed copies of the exchange of diplomatic notes between Philippine Foreign Minister Alberto Romulo and his Japanese counterpart Masahiko Koumura to her fellow Senators, concluding that the constitutional questions under JPEPA are addressed and she expects the JPEPA to be ratified by October.[i]

“The side agreement was entered into to save face, but it will not necessarily save the necks of many Filipinos once JPEPA comes into force,” exclaimed Atty. Richard Gutierrez of the environmental group, Ban Toxics, a member of the MJJC. “JPEPA remains un-ratified because the Senators know the extreme costs JPEPA will put to bear on our country and are concerned with the political backlash this will unleash.”

According to the MJJC losses under JPEPA are real in terms of job displacement and worsened poverty for rural people, citing the
Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) when the latter studied JPEPA. PIDS concluded that there will be a contraction and rise in unemployment of the agricultural sector if JPEPA is ratified.

77,000 Filipino workers of the automobile industry are also under threat under JPEPA when it opens the floodgates to imported used four-wheeled motor vehicles contrary to Executive Order 156 that clearly prohibits the same.

The MJJC is also railing over the failure of the Philippines to get Japan to remove its the enormous agricultural subsidy (including subsidies on fishing industry) that aversely affects millions of Filipino farmers and fisherfolks who cannot compete with subsidized Japanese products both abroad and at home, questioning Sen. Roxas’ rosy projections on JPEPA.

Concern is further raised over possible exploitation of Filipino nurses once in Japan since the government failed to get Japan to commit to core international core labor standards and protect the rights of migrant workers; exposing Filipino nurses to exploitation and discrimination in Japan.

“The JPEPA is clearly poisonous to a vast majority of sectors in the Philippines. Our government continues to cook up a storm of half-truths about the benefits of JPEPA,” stated Dr. Leah Paquiz, President of the Philippine Nurses Association and member of MJJC. “We need our leaders to stop saving their face in front of the Japanese. Bite the bullet, Junk JPEPA and save our collective necks from Japanese economic aggression. Two years has been far too long.”

For details, please contact:

Atty. Richard Gutierrez, Ban Toxics / Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition, mobile: 917 506 7724, email: rgutierrez@ban.org

Dr. Leah Paquiz, President, Philippine Nurses Association, mobile: 0917 852 0918

[i] In May 2007, the Philippine and Japanese governments also entered into a similar side agreement to address the mounting public concerns over the possible export of toxic wastes from Japan under the JPEPA because the agreement considered toxic wastes as “Japanese goods” and bestowed upon it trade priveleges such as zero tariffs. The MJJC continues to be critical of the side agreement on toxic wastes and has dubbed the instrument as a mere palliative to a bigger problem, that of the JPEPA itself. Primary criticism is aimed at the existing loopholes in the Basel Convention and Republic Act 6969 on which the side agreements are based on. The group also aimed stronger criticism on the issue of governance and lax or inconsistent enforcement of laws in the Philippines that makes any promise to follow laws futile.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376

06 September 2008

Groups challenge Atienza to Keep His Promise to Close the Dumps

Quezon City. The waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition reminded Environment Secretary Lito Atienza of his promise to close down all existing dumps and bring to court all the local government leaders who will fail to comply with his six months deadline, which should expire on November 5th this year.

The strong stance was uttered by Atienza in a public forum last May 5, 2008. The Secretary dared local government officials who continue to defy the law by operating and maintaining dumps that they will be brought to court by his very own agency.

“The continuous existence of dumpsites is a blatant violation of our environmental laws and a sign of weakness of our implementors. Secretary Atienza made a very strong pronouncement and he is obliged as a public servant to fulfill his promise,” said Ochie Tolentino of the Cavite Green Coalition and a member of the Task Force Dumps/Landfills of the EcoWaste Coaliton.

The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act or Republic Act 9003 orders the closure of all open dumps in 2004 and closed dumps in 2006. Yet in the data of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), there are 826 existing open dumps and 359 controlled dumps in the country.

“Dumps are polluting facilities and will cause ground, air and water contamination. It is also a major source of methane which worsens global warming. As the Environment Secretary, Atienza has the power to close down all polluting facilities. What it takes is the will to do it. We are watching Mister Secretary,” said Tolentino.

The EcoWaste Coaliton believes that a successful ecological solid waste management lies in community education and implementation of proactive waste prevention, reduction, segregation at source, recycling and composting and through the establishment of people-driven ecology centers or materials recovery facilities (MRFs). The Coalition opposes financially and environmentally costly “sanitary” landfills or “waste-to-energy” incinerators.

The EcoWaste Coalition further called on Sec. Atienza and local government executives to ensure alternative livelihood for the informal recyclers such as the waste pickers who undertake the very dirty and hazardous job of foraging through the dumps for recyclable materials that can be sold.

“Our local government units should recognize the rights of the waste pickers and involve them in putting our waste management systems in order. They should be the first priority in the hiring of needed workers in the operation of a true and ecological waste management system, so as to afford them with humane employment that will provide them with basic health and social security benefits,” the EcoWaste Coalition stated.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376

03 September 2008

Congress Asked to Delete Budget Lines for Wasteful Debts

Quezon City. As Congress prepares to scrutinize the P1.4-trillion proposed budget for 2009, environmental groups pressed lawmakers to deny public spending for “fraudulent, wasteful and/or useless” debts which are eating into the country’s social spending funds.

The EcoWaste Coalition and its 75 member groups joined debt watchers led by the Freedom from Debt Coalition in asking legislators to exercise Congressional vigilance against what has been labeled as “illegitimate debts.”

“We urge Congress to act against the injustice of illegitimate debt burden by invalidating proposed payments in the 2009 budget for debts that are challenged to be fraudulent, wasteful and/or useless,” Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition and the Global Alliance for Incinerator
Alternatives said.

“We specifically ask Congress to cancel out the wasteful payment for the 26 obsolete incinerators in government hospitals and to serve formal notice to the government of Austria that no further payment will be paid,” Calonzo stated.

The EcoWaste Coalition is referring to the controversial loan package entered into by the governments of Austria and the Philippines in 1996 that involved the importation of medical waste incinerators and disinfection units for 26 hospitals under the Department of Health.

The incinerators were later decommissioned in July 2003 when the phase out of medical waste incineration under Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act took effect.

Citing a detailed study by Greenpeace, the EcoWaste Coalition described the package as a classic example of dirty technology transfer that saw the Philippines importing highly polluting waste burners, vouched by the Austrian government as “the most efficient, safest and comparatively cheapest,” without basic pollution control devices.

Subsequent emission testing of some of these incinerators showed that the so-called “state-of-the-art” equipment released excessive levels of cancer-causing dioxins, the most toxic chemical substances known to science.

The Dr. Paulino Garcia Memorial Hospital in Cabanatuan city, for instance, exceeded the limits set by the Clean Air Act by nine times for particulate matter, 12 times for hydrogen chloride and a monstrous 870 times for dioxins and furans.

On top of the adverse health and environmental effects, the repayment for the obsolete incinerators represents a chronic bleeding for the country’s measly health budget, the EcoWaste Coalition emphasized.

In 2008, for example, the government put aside almost P100 million to pay for the “toxic debt,” which, according to the Coalition, could have been used to augment funds to support the needs of indigent patients or to help hospitals comply with the non-incineration treatment of their infectious and pathological waste streams.

Bankrolled by the Bank Austria, the project’s original cost of over P503-million is to be paid in 24 semi-annual payments until 2014. The Filipino people pay nearly $2-million annually for the principal amortization and interest payment of 4% per annum.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition, EcoWaste Coalition, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Health Care Without Harm and Greenpeace Southeast Asia are partners in “Stop Toxic Debt” campaign that seeks the cancellation or repudiation of the illegitimate and odious Austrian incinerator loan.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 320, Eagle Court Condominium, Matalino St.
Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 9290376