CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Environmental groups want Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to discuss his administration’s plan of action in protecting the environment during his fifth State of the Nation (SONA) address on Monday, July 27.
“We anticipate the president’s 5th SONA to unwrap the government’s detailed strategy and plan to rebuild the society from the unparalleled health, economic, and humanitarian crisis caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic,” said Eileen Sison, EcoWaste Coalition president, in a statement Saturday, July 25.
She suggested that through a green and just recovery strategy and plan, the government can resuscitate the country’s battered economy that will uplift the people’s lives, especially those living on the margins while ensuring the protection of the ecosystems from dirty energy sources, polluting processes and wasteful products, and toxic disposal technologies.
Meanwhile, Chinkie Peliño-Golle, executive director of Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability, said they are hoping the government will stop the approval and implementation of environmentally destructive waste-to-energy incineration and mining projects.
“Have we not seen enough destruction of the environment and why is it bad for public health? This pandemic should have made us all realize that public health is closely related to environmental health and sustainability,” she added.
Rene Pineda, president of Consumer Rights for Safe Food, hoped that Duterte finds the wisdom to declare in his SONA the war against the deliberate mismanagement of waste by some local government units through their willful neglect of abiding by the very simple and pro-environment provisions of R.A. 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.
Noli Abinales, founder of Buklod Tao Inc. also hoped the government will also prioritize the protection of the lives of Filipinos and the environment.
In their joint statement, the environmental groups laid out plans that the present administration can act on, including:
1. The rejection of bills rescinding the ban on waste incineration under the Clean Air Act and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and those espousing waste-to-energy incineration;
2. The enactment of a comprehensive ban on single-use plastics and the promotion of alternative product packaging and delivery systems;
3. The adoption of extended producer responsibility that will make manufacturers, importers, and distributors responsible for the retrieval, recycling, treatment or disposal of post-consumer products;
4. The ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment prohibiting the transfer of hazardous wastes from developed to developing countries, and the imposition of a national ban on waste imports, including electronic waste, plastic waste, and other wastes;
5. The environmentally sound management of infectious COVID-19 waste sans the use of incinerators or crematories；
6. The propagation of urban container gardening/farming and household composting as practical solutions to waste, hunger and health woes;
7. The provision of secure, safe and sustainable jobs and livelihoods for the informal waste sector；
8. The passage of a ”Rights of Nature” law that will provide the highest level of legal protection to the natural ecosystems and processes amid the climate, biodiversity, plastic, and COVID-19 crises.
“The SONA, we hope, will put in motion a roadmap to a green and just recovery where the interests of Mother Earth and her children rank first over and above ‘business as usual’ schemes,” the groups said. (davaotoday.com)