Groups Reach Out to Malacañang to Expedite Ratification of “Basel Ban Amendment”

Leaders of Ang NARS Party-List and the EcoWaste Coalition on Monday went to Malacañang to obtain support for the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment.

The Basel Ban Amendment is a revision to the Basel Convention, a global environmental treaty, that seeks to prohibit exports of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries for final disposal, reuse, recycling and recovery.

In their dialogue with the Office of the Executive Secretary represented by Usec. Ronald Geron, Ang NARS Party-List Rep. Leah Paquiz and EcoWaste Coalition’s Coordinator Aileen Lucero requested Malacañang to work for the expeditious ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment during the remaining days of the Aquino administration.

“While the Philippines ratified the Basel Convention in 1993, our country has yet to ratify the Basel Ban Amendment that is meant to fix the recycling loophole in the treaty.  By ratifying it, we protect our country from turning into a convenient dumping ground for hazardous wastes and other wastes masquerading as recyclables,” said Paquiz. 

“Our current laws are not strong enough to shield us from hazardous waste traders overseas in search for cheap disposal options in developing countries like ours.  The Canadian dumping scandal serves as a stark reminder of the insufficiency of our laws and the need for a stronger defence against the smuggling of wastes and toxics that could be better managed in exporting countries,” said Lucero.

Ang NARS Party-List and the EcoWaste Coalition told Usec. Geron that the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment could form part of the Aquino presidency’s “environmental justice” legacy benefitting generations of Filipinos.

The groups noted that veteran lawmaker Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago has time and again expressed her support for the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment “to protect the country from becoming a global dump for hazardous wastes.”

Santiago during the 15th and 16th Congresses filed resolutions calling for the investigation of hazardous waste imports from New Zealand and Canada, respectively, and the ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment.

According to the country fact sheet submitted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the Basel Convention Secretariat, the Philippines has not ratified the amendment because “it has economic impacts to local industry depending on using secondary material classified as hazardous waste under the Convention.”

The groups, unconvinced with the supposed economic disadvantage of ratifying the Basel Ban Amendment, noted the need to gather, disclose and analyze the country’s hazardous waste imports data and how such imports are used or disposed of.

The groups also cited the importance of quantifying the health, environmental and social costs of such trade in hazardous wastes and comparing these with the alleged economic benefits.

To date, 82 governments have so far ratified the Basel Ban Amendment, including Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia in Southeast Asia, as well as China.