Environment Groups, People’s Organizations, and Concerned Individuals file case vs DENR’s Waste-to-Energy Guidelines

Photo: Bianca Kit/PECJ

Today, 15 July 2021, environment groups, people’s organizations, and concerned individuals (“Petitioners”) filed a petition calling on the Supreme Court to nullify Department Administrative Order No. 2019-21 (“DAO 2019-21”), otherwise known as the "Guidelines Governing Waste To Energy ("WtE") Facilities for the Integrated Management of Municipal Solid Waste, issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (“DENR”).

The Petitioners argue, among others, that (a) DAO 2019-21 is an invalid administrative order, (b) the issuance and implementation of DAO 2019-21 will result in grave violations of the people’s Right to Health and the Right to a Balanced and Healthful Ecology under the Constitution, and (c) the DENR violated the Public Trust Doctrine when it issued and implemented DAO 2019-21.

Photo: Bianca Kit/PECJ

The Petitioners are represented by lawyers from the Philippine Earth Justice Center (“PEJC”). The PEJC is a non-government organization of legal advocates who push for the implementation of our environmental laws. The PEJC is active in environmental law litigation and has provided legal representation in various landmark cases concerning the environment.

One of the petitioners is Ecowaste Coalition – a public interest and advocacy network of community, church, school, environmental and health groups that advocate sustainable solutions to waste, climate change and chemical issues. In a statement, Atty. Lievj Alimangohan, Senior Policy Officer of the Ecowaste Coalition, said that the network is seriously concerned about the grave health, environmental and the economic impacts of WtE technologies and facilities. “We filed the petition to stop the DENR from implementing DAO 2019-21. It is an invalid administrative order and, more importantly, its implementation will cause irreparable harm to human health and the environment,” he added.

Meanwhile, Coleen Salamat, an environmental advocate who works with grassroots organizations on waste and plastic issues, joined the petition as an individual co-petitioner. “WTE facilities are false solutions and a tricky term to greenwash. This justifies the production of plastics when we should be reducing and eliminating it at source. In the middle of a global pandemic, this will just add to the persistent health and climate crisis we are facing,” she said.

The petition also prays for the issuance of an Environment Protection Order (“EPO”) to immediately enjoin the implementation of DAO 2019-21. Rei Panaligan of Plastic-Free Pilipinas Project explained that “WtE facilities merely transform the waste into other harmful substances, such as dioxins and furans. Dioxins and furans are highly toxic substances that cause cancer, diabetes, and chloracne. Also, ​​WtE facilities emit high volumes of greenhouse gasses that accelerate climate change. This is why we really need to immediately stop the implementation of the DENR’s WtE Guidelines.”

Atty. Kristine Joy Argallon, who represents the petitioners said, “We hope that the Supreme Court will give due course to the petition and grant the reliefs prayed for. A favorable ruling by the Supreme Court will go a long way in the fight to protect the environment and in resisting false solutions to waste management.