Open Letter to Hon. DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje and Hon. EMB Director Juan Miguel Cuna

23 August 2010

Hon. Ramon J.P. Paje

Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Hon. Juan Miguel Cuna
Environmental Management Bureau

Dear Secretary Paje and Director Cuna,


We, concerned groups and individuals, declare unity with EcoWaste Coalition in asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to lead dutifully the most pressing collaborative task required to combat the alarming incidence of deaths attributed to the accidental and deliberate ingestion of cyanide-containing silver jewelry cleaners.

This deadly concoction has become a modern day scourge linked to senseless deaths of young, adolescent and adult Filipinos.

Data from the UP National Poison Management and Control Center (UPNPMCC) indicate that in 2009 alone, 11 Filipinos (three in the adult age group and eight in the pediatric age group) died out of 235 cases of silver cleaner poisoning handled by or referred to the PGH-based group. From January to June 2010, nine have already died (four adults and five children). Other poison centers of the Department of Health (DOH) have reported the same picture in their admissions and referrals from other hospitals.

The non-accidental intake of silver cleaners, according to the UPNPMCC, has also risen from 7% in 2005 to 86% in 2009, a quantum leap in suicidal cases that has alarmed health, police and church authorities as well as chemical safety advocates in the civil society.

These senseless deaths could have been prevented if only the ban on the commercial use of cyanide (i.e., as one of the chemical additives of silver cleaners) had been firmly enforced. Our government can stop this deadly onslaught by enforcing the ban and bringing to court unscrupulous producers, distributors and vendors of this toxic stuff who, knowingly or unwittingly, victimize innocent children and exploit people’s despair.

To our mind, being the agency that issued the Chemical Control Order (CCO) for Cyanide and Cyanide Compounds, the DENR — particularly the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) — is chiefly and legally responsible in duly implementing the ban that they rightly imposed in 1997.

Whether or not silver cleaners are classified as products or substances, the fact remains that the CCO is shamelessly violated, thus endangering the people’s health and safety.

Where people are exposed to lethal harm, apathy and indecisiveness must never be an option. We therefore urge the DENR-EMB to respond to this toxic challenge by:

1. Strictly enforcing the ban on the use of cyanide in silver jewelry cleaners.

2. Confiscating, in collaboration with law enforcement units, silver cleaners that are not duly registered, tested and certified as cyanide-free and not bearing all the labelling requirements; and duly charging violators.

3. Promoting non-toxic alternatives to cleaning tarnished jewelry.

An “Oplan Silver Cleaner,” led by the DENR-EMB and supported by other stakeholders, should be launched with urgency, mindful that we are racing against time to save the next Filipino from getting injured and killed by cyanide poisoning.

Signed by:


Roy Alvarez, Alaga LAHAT
Chin-Chin Gutierrez, Alaga LAHAT
Dina Panganiban-Mejia, Angkan ng Mandirigma – UP Diliman
Dr. Leah Primitiva Samaco-Paquiz, Ang NARS
Velvet Roxas, Arugaan/Save Babies Coalition
Risa Hontiveros-Barraquel, AKBAYAN
Atty. Richard Gutierrez, Ban Toxics
Joey C. Papa, Bangon Kalikasan Movement
Noli Abinales, Buklod Tao
Ochie Tolentino, Cavite Green Coalition
Com. Elsie Brandes-De Veyra, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Esther Pacheco, Citizens Organziation Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Rene Pineda, Citizens Organization Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability
Noemi N. Tirona, Consumer Rights for Safe Food
Manny C. Calonzo, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Dr. Angelina Galang, Green Convergence for Safe Food, Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy
Merci Ferrer, Health Care Without Harm
Com. Eileen Sison, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives
Fr. Benigno P. Beltran, SVD, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
Secretariat, SVD Central Province
George Dadivas, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation
Neneng Joson, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Sonia Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation
Romy Hidalgo, November 17 Movement
Isagani Serrano, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement
Marie Marciano, Sanib Lakas ng mga Aktibong Lingkong ng Inang Kalikasan
Dr. Helen Mendoza, Soljuspax
Fr. Archie Casey SX, Xaverian Missionaries/Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission-Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines
Ofelia Panganiban, Zero Waste Philippines
Bishop Deogracias S. Iñiguez, Jr.
Atty. Armand H. Mejia, Counsel, EcoWaste Coalition
Assoc. Prof. Angelina Nunag Tiotangco
Juana Flores, Alay Kapwa Social Action Center
Rosita Tumangan, Alay Kapwa Social Action Center
Elizabeth Garcia, Apostolado ng Panalangin
Loida P. Santos, Catholic Women’s League
Beth Genuino, Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Aurea Gotopeng, Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Analee Odrade,Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Maricel Patiag, Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Maritess Santiago, Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Rommel Ternida, Divina Pastora College Alumni Association
Angie Esquejo, Empowerment
Argee Esquejo,Empowerment
Macky Singh, Empowerment
Charie Balaong, Health Advocates of Nueva Ecija
Bing Gonzales, Health Advocates of Nueva Ecija
Margie Lacanilao, Health Advocates of Nueva Ecija
Lorelei Laureta, Health Advocates of Nueva Ecija
Dolor Simbilio, Health Advocates of Nueva Ecija
Raymond Eugenio, Knights of Columbus
Jun Bautista, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Roberto Bolinao, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Mario Cabling, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Mercedes Cabling, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Michael Calma, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Bernadette Capule, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Ruel Capule, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Louie Chua, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Zenaida del Rosario, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Olivia V. Jacoba, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Amy Fe Juane, Krusada sa Kalikasan
Evelyn Manucdoc, Legion of Mary
Ma. Teresa M. Oliva, Miriam PEACE
Nena Beltran, Mother Butler Guild
Jocelyn Baroceros, National Mental Health Association
Elmo Austria, Nueva Ecija People with Disabilities
Banjo Biray, Nueva Ecija People with Disabilities
Gerry Gelle, Nueva Ecija People with Disabilities
Rodolfo Mendoza, Nueva Ecija People with Disabilities
Ramonito Sanchez, Nueva Ecija People with Disabilities
Eduardo Delfin, Outreach Philippines, Inc.
Felina Delfin, Outreach Philippines, Inc.
Emily Garubo, Outreach Philippines, Inc.
Liezl Parungao, Outreach Philippines, Inc.
Ami Sanchez, Outreach Philippines, Inc.
Gilbert Mactal, PPC-SNT
Lydia Cornelio, San Lorenzo Ruiz Association
Irma Perez, Soroptimist International
Morito V. Tatel, Young Men Christian Association
Batong Sandigan Development Foundation
Barangay Yakal Materials Recovery Facilities, Silang, Cavite
Catechesis Ministry of St. Joseph
Ecology Ministry of Candelaria Parish, Cavite
Ecology Ministry of Resurrection Parish, Cavite
Ecology Ministry of St. Joseph Parish, Cavite
Isaiahville Home Owners Association
Koro ni San Jose
Lay Minister of the Word St Joseph, Cavite
Likhang Kalikasan – LIKAS
Maskara – Green Stage Filipinas
Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Maguyam – Cavite
Shoreline Kabalikat sa Kinabukasan, Inc.
Sining Yapak
Ternatenos Against Landfill Association


Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Philippine Earth Justice Center
(39 other signatories to be uploaded)


Angelina Ludivice Katoh, Alternative Center for Organizational Reforms and Development (ACORD), Zamboanga City
Danilo Remoroza, Building Alternative Rural Resource Institution and Organizing Services (BARRIOS), General Santos City
Engr. Fernando Salise, Human Ecological and Economic Development (HEED) Foundation, Agusan del Sur
Lia Esquillo, Interface Development Interventions
Nariman Ambolodto, Institute for Strategic Initiatives (ISI), ARMM
Philip Beda, Iranun Development Council (IDC), Maguindanao
Betty T. Cabazares, Kinaiyahan Foundation, Inc.
Junalyn Gayak-Sumlay, Magungaya Center for PALMA, North Cotabato
Edwin Mayormita, Pagdumala Inc., Davao City
Victor Parra Jr., People’s Alternative Development Center (PADC), Davao Oriental
Donel Fernandez, People’s Reform Advocates thru Participatory Good Governance (PRAPGG), Iligan City
Tom Villarin, Siad Initiatives in Mindanao Convergence for Asset Reform and Regional Development (SIMCARRD)
Jonathan Cortez, Solidarity for Peace, Empowerment and Equity-led Development (SPEED), Cotabato City

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St.Quezon City, Philippines
+63 2 441-1846