By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
FOLLOWING President Duterte’s pronouncement with regard to the importation of garbage to the country, environmental watchdog Ecowaste Coalition expressed optimism that the government would address this issue by banning the entry of wastes from overseas.
In his Aug. 21 speech during the inauguration of the 7.5-megawatt Tumingad solar power project in Odiongan, Tablas Island, Romblon, Duterte took a jab at first world countries for shipping their trash to the country in the guise of recycling.
“We had that experience of Canada and the rest of the industrialized countries exporting their garbage in the guise that they can still be used. I’d like to say to the Western countries, do not make us a garbage dump,” the President said.
“You know, you might be more powerful, more and more developed and rich. But your wealth does not translate into something [that would oppress other nations],” he added.
“The president’s abhorrence against garbage from overseas being dumped in our ports, which is share by many if not all Filipinos, should be translated into a robust policy that will proactively prevent such a bad practice from continuing,” said Ecowaste Coalition national coordinator Aileen Lucero in a statement Monday.
She said Duterte’s speech should become a law that will ensure industrialized nations will no longer be allowed to bring their trash to the country.
Lucero said, “Our country needs to impose a total ban, not simply a moratorium, on waste imports to send a clear and unequivocal signal to trash traders and traffickers that sending contaminated plastics and other wastes to the Philippines is no longer a profitable option for them.”
The group has repeated its call for the immediate re-export of 5,177 tons of contaminated plastic waste materials from South Korea, part of which caught fire on Aug. 12, and the 211 tons of waste-derived processed engineered fuel from Australia, which are languishing in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
The Ecowaste Coalition and over a dozen public interest groups had earlier asked the environment department to completely and permanently ban all waste imports.
“If a complete ban is not enforced, would the authorities have enough trained personnel to actually sniff out all the shipments of ‘recyclables’ that could contain hazardous materials in all ports,” Lucero said.
The group also reiterated the need for the Duterte government to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment, which aims to prohibit the export of hazardous wastes and other forms of trash from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling.
Two more ratifications from a list of eligible nations are required for said amendment to enter into force, and the Philippines is one of the 24 countries whose ratification could lead to its implementation, the group noted.
“We believe President Duterte and his Cabinet appreciate this historic opportunity and will prioritize the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment and its eventual transmittal to the Senate this year for the required concurrence,” Lucero said.
A cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the DENR has concluded that the Philippines has the capacity to ratify the amendment based on net positive assessment, the group said.