An environmental coalition has put forward an ambitious “Citizens’ Agenda for Zero Waste and Chemical Safety” that they hope presumptive President-elect Noynoy Aquino will implement from June 30 to October 7, his first 100 days in office.
At a conference held yesterday at the Occupational Safety and Health Center in Quezon City, some 100 participants from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao approved several action proposals that seek to advance Noynoy’s “Social Contract with the Filipino People,” particularly in the health and environmental arena.
Speaking at the conference, Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan, Noynoy’s health policy adviser, reiterated Aquino’s commitment to protecting and advancing public health and environment as embodied in the “Social Contract.”
“As the People’s President, I’m certain that Noynoy will warmly welcome your proposals that will help the new government in defining its priorities in terms of tangible policies and programs to adequately meet the citizens’ needs for a clean, healthy and safe environment. Nasa tamang panahon tayo para makatulong sa ating bansa,” said Dr. Tan.
“Noynoy can help in reversing the persistent garbage disposal crisis by directing the entire government machinery to step up the implementation of R.A. 9003 and ensuring fund allotments for zero waste resource management and enforcement activities,” said Eileen Sison, NGO Representative to the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC).
R.A. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the first law signed in 2001 by outgoing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, has not been fully enforced as evidenced by the continued operation of some 1,234 open and controlled dumpsites and the ever growing national waste generation that, according to government estimates, will reach 13.67 million tons per year by 2010.
“Harmful chemicals affect the most vulnerable sectors that look up to Noynoy for policies and measures that will protect them from health-damaging exposure to environmental pollutants. We urge Noynoy and his Cabinet to initiate, support and fund a bold agenda for chemical safety that will benefit our children, our women and the poor the most,” said Manny Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.
Integrating chemical safety into the country’s program for sustainable development, the Coalition pointed out, is one concrete strategy that will surely lighten the health, economic and financial burdens of poor families that are aggravated by their exposure to toxic chemicals.
To demonstrate the President’s resolve to put an end to our perennial garbage woes and lead the nation to the path of Zero Waste, the groups asked Noynoy to preside over one meeting of the NSWMC, an inter-agency body under the Office of the President that oversees the implementation of R.A. 9003, with all the department secretaries in full attendance.
Noynoy, the groups said, should mobilize all government departments to enforce R.A. 9003 within their respective jurisdictions, ban the use of styrofoam food packaging in their canteens and by their catering contractors, and patronize products using recycled, reusable and recyclable materials.
The EcoWaste Coalition would like to see Noynoy using the President’s Social Fund to assist local government units in the closure and rehabilitation of dumpsites, and jump start the implementation of the “National Framework Plan for the Informal Waste Sector in Solid Waste Management.”
Zero Waste advocates urged Noynoy to launch and lead a nationwide campaign against littering, the most ignored environmental offense, that is turning our country into one of the dirtiest in Asia.
In the field of chemical safety, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Noynoy to initiate – during his first 100 days in office – a multistakeholder, timebound process that will adopt a national chemical safety policy framework and action plan in line with the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).
The EcoWaste Coalition requested the incoming President to throw his all-out support to eliminate the country’s stockpile of polychlorinated biphenyls through a pioneering UN-assisted non-combustion treatment facility that will soon commence operations in Bataan.
Pursuant to Noynoy’s commitment to advance the public health, the EcoWaste Coalition urged him to ensure full enforcement of DOH Administrative Order 2008-0021 for the phaseout of mercury-containing medical devices by September 2010, and DOH Administrative Order 2010-0013 requiring graphic health information on all cigarette product packages.
Chemical safety campaigners also sought the issuance of executive orders or department administrative orders that will eliminate lead in paints, declare schools mercury-free, ensure environmentally-sound management of lamp waste with mercury, promote a mandatory “take back” policy and program for waste electronic and electrical equipment, ban the aerial spraying of agrochemicals, and implement the country’s“ Chemical Accident Prevention and Preparedness Framework and Plan.”
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