23 July 2019, Quezon City. Local government units (LGUs) who continue to lag behind in enforcing the country’s environmental laws should rise from their slumber and protect Mother Earth from further degradation.
Echoing President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s directive at his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA), the environmental watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition appealed to LGUs nationwide to energetically enforce laws that seek to protect public health and the environment such as Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
As he cited the government-led efforts to rehabilitate the famed Boracay Island and Manila Bay, Duterte said he was “giving due notice to the LGUs and other stakeholders to take extra steps in the enforcement of our laws and the protection of our environment.”
“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 Aileen Lucero,National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“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,” she noted.
As the plastic pollution crisis takes center stage, the EcoWaste Coalition thought that Duterte should have asked the 18th Congress to legislate a robust ban on single-use plastics to complement the active enforcement of RA 9003.
“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.
“National and local governments should better 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,” she suggested.
The EcoWaste Coalition also thought that the president 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 reminded.