Environmental Watchdog Lists Questions to Ask Presidential Hopefuls on Wastes and Toxics


Finding their views on environmental concerns at the last
presidential debate in Cebu wanting, a watchdog group today asked aspiring
successors of President Benigno S. Aquino III to tell the public how really green,
or grey, they are.
The EcoWaste Coalition, a member of the electoral advocacy group Green Thumb
Coalition, has prepared nine questions on some of the burning issues pertaining
to wastes and toxics for the presidential hopefuls to ponder and answer. 
Among the issues covered were the closure of illegal dumpsites, the violation
of the ban on waste incineration, the Canadian garbage scandal, the need for
safe and secured jobs for the informal waste sector, the “plasticization” of
the oceans, the health and environmental threats from e-waste, cadmium
pollution, publicly access to environmental data from industrial facilities and
the ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
“By asking these questions, we hope to draw out the
candidates’ views, as well as solutions, on some of the ‘hot’ waste and toxic
issues facing our nation today,” said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste

“The time and space limits of the presidential debate may have restricted the
panellists from asking these questions and hindered the candidates from delving
on them,” she noted.
“This is a good opportunity for the presidential contenders to communicate to
the voters how green or grey they are, and we hope they will respond on or
before April 7,” she added.
Below are the questions sent by the EcoWaste Coalition to the presidential bets
via e-mail:

1.  The Ombudsman
is investigating complaints against 50 local government units for their failure
to close garbage dumpsites as required by Republic Act 9003, the Ecological
Solid Waste Management Act.  What
will you do in your first 100 days to promote and secure LGU compliance to R.A.
9003, particularly with respect to the closure and rehabilitation of dumpsites?
2.  R.A. 8749, the Clean Air Act of 1999
and R.A. 9003,  the Ecological Solid
Waste Management Act of 2000 both prohibit waste incineration in the Philippines.  However, the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources continuously circumvents this prohibition (a) by coming up
with a department order that allowed cement manufacturers to burn pelletized
mixed waste in their plants, and now (b) by drafting a guideline for allowing
burning waste-to-energy facilities.  If
you are elected president, what steps would you take in your first 100 days to
stem this continuing violation of the incineration ban under R.A. 8749 and R.A.
9003?  What possible initiatives would
you advance in order to strengthen both laws?
3.  Between
2013-2014, a total of 103 shipping containers of mixed household garbage
disguised as scrap plastics for recycling were illegally imported from
Canada.  Twenty six of these garbage-filled
containers were unlawfully disposed of at a landfill in Tarlac in 2015 until
halted by angry citizens and officials.  If
you get elected as President, what action will you do during your first 100
days in office to ensure that the illegal waste shipments from Canada are sent
back?  What will you do to ensure that
such appalling dumping incident does not ever happen again?  Will you support the rapid ratification of
the Basel Ban Amendment?

4. The informal waste sector contributes tremendously to
the reduction of wastes hauled to waste disposal facilities by painstakingly
recovering useful discards that can be recycled and returned to commerce.  What is your program to ensure that waste
workers are duly recognized for such positive contributions to the environment
and the economy, and are provided with safe and secured jobs?
5.  A study
released at the recent World Economic Forum warns that there will be more
plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 unless we turn the tide.  This is a disturbing scenario for a
fish-eating country like the Philippines where fishing is also a major source
of livelihood.  What policy measures will your
administration take to stop the “plasticization” of the oceans?  For instance, will you support a nationwide
ban on single-use plastic bags?   Will
you support a ban on plastic microbeads in cosmetic and personal care products?
6.  The increasing
volume of waste electrical and electronic equipment, popularly known as
e-waste, is a growing problem in the Philippines and other low and middle
income countries given the toxicity of this waste stream and the lack of a
system to ensure their environmentally sound management.  How will your administration deal with the
need to reduce the health and environmental impacts of e-waste?
7.  The EcoWaste
Coalition has detected toxic cadmium in campaign tarpaulins at levels that
exceed the European Union’s limit for cadmium in plastics.  Used cadmium-laden tarps are often sent to
dumpsites and landfills for disposal.  What
do you plan to do to ensure that the ubiquitous plastic tarpaulins do not
contribute to cadmium pollution that is detrimental to human health and the
8.  During the last
several years, the mass media reported about chemical-related explosions,
fires, emissions and spills from industrial facilities affecting workers and
surrounding communities. Would you support a mandatory system that will require
industrial and other facilities to provide accessible environmental data to the
general public.  Will you support the adoption of
a Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) policy in line with the
public’s right to know?  Will you
encourage and support industry switch to clean production practices?
9.  The Philippines signed the Minamata
Convention on Mercury in October 2013, but has yet to ratify this important
global treaty that aims to prevent and reduce mercury pollution from human
activities. To date, 25 countries, including Japan and USA, have ratified
it.  50 ratifications are required for
the treaty to enter into force.  If
elected as President, will you commit to promoting the ratification of the
Minamata Convention in your first 100 days in office?