6 November 2019, Quezon City. The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition lauded President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s unequivocal position against foreign waste dumping into the Philippines and Southeast Asia as it urged the chief executive to formalize such stance into a robust policy.
On Monday, Duterte, speaking at a Special Lunch on Sustainable Development held on the fringe of the 35th ASEAN Summit hosted by Thailand, scored developed countries for shipping garbage marked as “recyclables” to Asian countries, particularly to Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
“The president has repeatedly deplored the dumping of hazardous waste, including contaminated plastic scraps misrepresented as ‘recyclables,’ from developed countries as an affront to the dignity and sovereignty of our nation,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“At the recent meeting in Nonthaburi, the president again demonstrated his resolute opposition against such act which is inimical to the national interest,” she said.
To provide the Philippines with the best legal protection against illegal export of waste or waste trafficking, the EcoWaste Coalition urged the Duterte government to adopt a national waste import ban, and to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment.
“A national waste import ban will send a strong and unambiguous message out there that we, Filipinos, do not want other people’s rubbish — from all countries — and that those who continue to treat our country as a dumping ground will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Lucero said.
“Ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment, which will enter into force on December 5, 2019, will reinforce our national defense against hazardous waste exports from developed countries who have the resources and technologies to deal with their wastes at the point of generation in an environmentally-sound manner,” she said.
Described as “the world’s most significant instrument for environmental justice,” the Basel Ban Amendment is an agreement adopted by Basel Convention Parties to prohibit the member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Union (EU), and Liechtenstein from exporting hazardous wastes to developing countries or countries with economies in transition.
“In Southeast Asia, so far only Indonesia and Malaysia will be protected from hazardous waste exports under the Basel Ban Amendment,” said Dr. Joe DiGangi, Senior Science and Technical Adviser of the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), of which the EcoWaste Coalition is a part of. “The Philippines and its neighbors should join Indonesia and Malaysia in ratifying the amendment to avoid becoming new targets for hazardous waste dumping.”
According to a fact sheet jointly prepared by the Basel Action Network and IPEN, ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment at the earliest possible date will “protect human health and the environment and prevent environmental injustice, in particular in developing and transition countries.”
Developing and transition countries that have not yet ratified the Basel Ban Amendment, according to the said fact sheet, will be inadvertently sending a message to developed countries that says: “We wish to retain the option of a developed country exporting hazardous waste to us, even when the Basel Convention, which we are a Party to, has been changed to forbid this type of trade.”
While the Philippines has signed the Basel Convention in 1989 and ratified it 1993, it has yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment.
A cost-benefit study commissioned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has determined that the Philippines has the capacity to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment based on net positive assessment.