Next President Urged to Work for Rapid Ratification of the Mercury Treaty

With a new presidency looming in the horizon, a watch
group on toxic chemicals and wastes exhorted whoever will win the coveted post
to ensure the immediate ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
“The mercury treaty has not yet come into force more than two years since it
was signed in October 2013 by most governments, including the Philippines,”
said Aileen Lucero, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“As it looks improbable that
the treaty will be ratified during the remaining days of the Aquino
administration, we turn our hope to the new presidency for it to happen,” she
“Having named the Convention
after Minamata, the Japanese city that suffered heavily from industry-caused
mercury pollution for decades, imposes a moral responsibility for all the
world’s leaders to rally behind the treaty ratification for it to come into
force,” she emphasized.
“We specifically call upon our government to honor Minamata by ratifying and
implementing the treaty,” she said.

The early ratification and
implementation of the Minamata Convention will help cut mercury pollution
across the globe by providing for controls and reductions in products,
processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted, the
EcoWaste Coalition commented.
It will bolster the country’s
efforts to prevent and reduce mercury pollution, which, among other things,
include the phasing out mercury in medical devices, banning mercury in skin
whitening cosmetics and prohibiting mercury in mineral processing, particularly
in artisanal and small-scale gold mining, the group added.
At their General Assembly last
Friday, members of the EcoWaste Coalition resolved to call upon the next
president to make the treaty ratification a top priority during her/his first
100 days in office.
“The new chief executive will
certainly have her/his hands full organizing the new government and we hope
that she/he will not put the treaty ratification on the back burner,” Lucero
The swift ratification of the
mercury treaty by the Philippines will be crucial in meeting the required 50
ratifications for the treaty to come into force this year, the EcoWaste
Coalition said.
The EcoWaste Coalition wanted
the Philippines to join the first 50 countries to ratify the mercury treaty as this
will “bring honor to our country and people, as well as strengthen on-going
work to prevent and reduce emissions and releases of toxic mercury into the
air, land and water to protect human health and the environment.”
“The treaty ratification can
be the most important act of the new government in the first 100 days that will
have lasting positive effects locally and globally on human health and the
environment,” the group said.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J.P.
Paje signed the mercury treaty on behalf of the Philippines at a diplomatic
conference held in Japan in 2013.
With assistance from the United Nations Training and Research (UNITAR), the
DENR Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) led by Assistant Secretary Juan
Miguel Cuna has prepared the draft “Ratification Dossier,”
which, among other things, includes the certificates of concurrence from
concerned agencies. 

While other agencies have already concurred, the Department of Energy and the
Bureau of Customs have yet to inform the DENR – EMB of their concurrence.
After being reviewed and agreed to by the various agencies, the executive
branch will transmit and endorse to the Senate the “Instrument of
Ratification” and the text of the ratified treaty for concurrence by
two-thirds of all the Senate members.

Signed by 128 governments, the
treaty will  enter into force 90 days after 50
nations have ratified it.
To date, only 25 countries have so far ratified the mercury treaty, including
Bolivia, Chad, Djibouti, Gabon, Guinea, Guyana, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lesotho,
Madagascar, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru,
Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, United Arab Emirates, United States of America,
Uruguay and Zambia.