18 July 2019, Quezon City. The waste and pollution watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition is pinning its hopes on President Rodrigo Duterte banning the importation of all wastes into the country’s ports and using his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) as a vehicle to send this message out — loud and clear.
“We hope President Duterte in his upcoming SONA will reinforce his resolute stance against foreign waste dumping and give the environmental department and the customs bureau their marching orders to ensure zero entry of all wastes from overseas, including processed residuals cunningly called alternative fuels,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“We also want him to set a definite deadline for the immediate re-export of Australian and South Korean waste shipments that are still languishing in Mindanao,” she said,
To recall, 211 tons of waste-derived processed engineered fuel from Australia and 5,177 tons of mixed plastic waste from South Korea are stranded at the Mindanao Container Terminal and PHIVIDEC Industrial Estate in Tagoloan, Misamis, Oriental.
To assure the Filipino people that foreign waste dumping would no longer happen under Duterte’s watch, the EcoWaste Coalition reiterated the need for the government to enforce a complete and permanent ban, not simply a moratorium, on waste exports to the Philippines.
“His fourth SONA is the right time for the chief policy maker to announce a total ban on foreign waste imports and his intent to ratify this year the Basel Ban Amendment and the Minamata Convention on Mercury, two landmark global agreements that seek to protect public health and the environment against hazardous chemicals and wastes,” she said.
The Basel Ban Amendment, adopted in 1995, prohibits the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries. The ban applies to export for any reason, including recycling. The Minamata Convention on Mercury, adopted in 2013, seeks to reduce global mercury pollution from human activities that emit and release mercury and its compounds.
The EcoWaste Coalition also expressed its hope that President Dutete will use his fourth SONA to rouse the whole nation into embracing much-needed waste prevention and reduction strategies at all levels, including banning single-use plastics, to curb chemical and waste pollution that is also threatening the world’s oceans.
“We call on President Duterte to throw his weight behind the campaign to stop plastic pollution and to urge the 18th Congress to pass without delay a robust law banning single-use plastics, as well as to enact other plastic pollution prevention measures, including the ban on microplastics in personal care and cosmetic products,” she added.
The group also expected that the presidential speech would highlight the importance of implementing best ecological practices in waste management sans waste-to-energy incineration in all local government units.