EcoWaste Coalition Thanks P-Noy, Cites Gains on Chemical and Waste Issues under His Presidency

As the national flag flies at half-mast to mourn the demise of former President Noynoy Aquino, an environmental health organization recalled some of the major achievements under his presidency, which contributed to preventing and reducing harm from wastes and toxics. 

In a statement, the EcoWaste Coalition commiserated with the Aquino family and the Filipino nation over the passing yesterday of the country’s 15th president and called to mind some of his administration’s accomplishments in the sphere of chemical and waste issues.

To recall, the EcoWaste Coalition in 2010 put forward a “Citizens’ Agenda for Zero Waste and Chemical Safety" and even staged a “People’s Walk” before his inauguration displaying a huge yellow banner with the message “P-Noy, protect us from toxic chemicals.”

“To celebrate his life, we find it fitting to bring to mind some of the major accomplishments of P-Noy’s presidency that have helped in protecting our people’s health and the environment from chemicals and wastes,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

P-Noy's biggest indirect contribution to the environment was his crusade to stamp out corruption in government, realizing perhaps that most of our environmental problems are rooted in fraudulent transactions and crooked practices in the management of our natural resources, the group pointed out.

On Zero Waste:

P-Noy in 2014 signed Proclamation 760 declaring January as Zero Waste Month, which led to the annual conduct of activities celebrating the benefits of the zero waste approach over polluting and unsustainable “burn or bury” disposal methods.

On Chemical Safety:

In 2014, the Commission on Human Rights adopted “The People’s Right to Chemical Safety: A Fifteen-Point Human Rights Agenda” espousing “health-based and human rights-based policies on chemicals” to safeguard the right of every Filipino, including those yet to be born, to be protected against hazardous substances.  

On Lead:

While the issuance of a Chemical Control Order (CCO) to prevent and reduce harm from lead compounds has been in the works since 2005, it was during the Aquino presidency when the CCO banning lead in the production of all paints was deliberated and finally adopted in 2013.  The CCO imposes a 90 parts per million (ppm) total lead content limit on lead for all paints, and provides for the phase-out of lead-containing paints and similar surface coatings. 

On Mercury:

The Aquino administration actively participated in the mercury treaty negotiations leading to the government's signing of the historic Minamata Convention on Mercury in October 2013, but which took seven long years to get ratified in 2020.

While it fell short in addressing much-needed reforms in the mining industry ardently sought by environmental and human rights advocates and affected communities, Executive Order 79 issued in 2012 prohibited the use of mercury in small-scale mining. 

During the six years of P-Noy’s presidency, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tested and subsequently banned over 100 brands of skin bleaching, lightening or whitening cosmetics contaminated with mercury.

On Phthalates in Toys:
While the government had acknowledged as early as 1999 that “phthalates may cause adverse health effects such as live and kidney wounds, reproductive abnormalities and immune system defects,” it was during the term of P-Noy when the Department of Health in 2011 through an Administrative Order banned six types of phthalates, a toxic plasticizer often used to soften PVC plastic toys, “to ensure that the toys used by Filipino children are safe.”  

On Toy Safety Problems:

Lawmakers took notice of the findings of the study conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and IPEN showing 29 percent of the 200 toy samples procured in the local market were laden with antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury above levels of concern.   Bills were filed at both houses of the 15th Congress, which were consolidated into Republic Act 10620, or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act, that P-Noy signed in 2013 to protect children from unsafe toys through mandatory product safety labeling requirements.  However, the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the said law were promulgated only in 2019 following a petition for a writ of mandamus filed in 2018 by the EcoWaste Coalition, Laban Konsyumer and 20 mothers yearning for safe toys for their children.

The EcoWaste Coalition thanked P-Noy for his service to the Filipino people, especially for helping advance the unfinished cause of zero waste and chemical safety during his administration, the statement concluded.

On Zero Waste:
On Chemical Safety:
On Lead:
On Mercury:
On Phthalates in Toys and Other Toy Safety Issues: