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Ecowaste to local govts: Act on Duterte’s call to protect environment

THE environmental watchdog Ecowaste Coalition has appealed to local governments to act on President Duterte’s call for them to do their part in protecting the environment during the Chief Executive’s fourth State-of-the-Nation Address on Monday.

Ecowaste said it is high time for the local governments to take action by enforcing environmental laws so the country’s natural resources would not plunge into further and irreversible degradation.

The Coalition said the effective enforcement of environmental laws such as Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act lies in the hands of local officials.

“We urge our LGUs to heed the presidential directive to reverse the continuing degradation of our environment due to blatant disrespect for our environmental laws and regulations,” said Ecowaste Coaition national coordinator Aileen Lucero in a statement Tuesday. 

“While we commend some LGUs for implementing waste prevention and reduction programs, RA 9003 remains ineffectively enforced in many localities as illegal dumping persists and as single-use plastics continue to cause chemical and waste pollution beyond our borders,” Lucero said.

She said the implementation of RA 9003 is not enough as the country must also adopt measures to control the dumping of plastic wastes into waterways that ended up in seas and oceans.

A legislation that would strictly ban single-use plastics should be crafted to complement the enforcement of RA 9003, she said.

A recent report published by Ocean Conservancy revealed that the Philippines now ranked as among the top polluters of plastics in the ocean.

“Instead of enforcing RA 9003, we find it very disturbing that waste-to-energy incineration (WtE) projects are aggressively being promoted as ‘solution’ to our country’s garbage woes,” Lucero said.

She noted national and local governments should focus on waste prevention and reduction strategies and programs such as product redesign, segregation at source, reuse, recycling, composting and their associated green enterprises for the poor.

The Ecowaste Coalition also thought that Duterte should have used the Sona “as a platform to assure the nation that foreign waste dumping will be a thing of the past.”

“To assure the people that no foreign waste dumping will happen again, the president should have reiterated his verbal order to bar waste imports and announced his intent to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which aims to prohibit the transfer of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling,” Lucero said.

“While customs authorities had re-exported this year  69 container vans of dumped wastes from Canada, 51 from South Korea and one from Hong Kong, there are still thousands of tons of wastes from Australia and South Korea waiting to be returned to their origin,”  she added. (Jigger J. Jerusalem)

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