LGUs weighed down by plastic, solid waste aside from COVID-19 response - Oceana Philippines
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LGUs weighed down by plastic, solid waste aside from COVID-19 response

Press Release Date: August 27, 2021

The country’s local government units (LGU) are left to face the burden of solving the worsening plastic pollution problem while the national government continues to sit on policies that could solve the solid waste crisis.

In a press conference with Oceana recently, Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon affirmed the need for the ban of single-use plastic from the manufacturing of these products and packaging to help address the burgeoning plastic pollution in Cebu City and in other parts of the country.

Dizon also cited a fellow member of the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Cebu City, Councilor Jessica Resch who delivered a privilege speech during the Sanggunian session recently. This resulted in the adoption of a resolution, supporting the legal action of civil society groups and individuals from the youth and children, fisherfolk, local government, divers, waste picker and other advocates to compel the National Solid Waste Management Commission and its member agencies to strictly perform their mandates in accordance with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

“We are supporting the nationwide ban on plastic and the case to be filed by Oceana, other civil society groups, and private individuals. A nationwide ban is a strategic move and it will greatly help local governments like us, in Cebu City to effectively enforce the ordinances that we passed to regulate the sale and use of plastic in Cebu City,” said Dizon.

Oceana Vice President Gloria Estenzo Ramos pointed out that the LGUs already have a lot of concerns on their hands to provide basic services to constituents. This is further aggravated these days by the added mandate to pursue COVID-19 aid and recovery efforts.

“While the LGUs are tasked to ensure compliance with the law requirements like waste segregation, reduction, reuse, and recycling, they need overarching policies from the national government to help them address the solid waste issue affecting the entire country,” Ramos said.

Photo credit: Oceana/Pilar Marin

Solid waste management is considered one of the most serious environmental issues in the Philippines. The annual waste generation was estimated at 10 million tons in 2010 and this is expected to rise by 40% in 2020.

In her privilege speech, staunch anti-plastic advocate and Sangguniang Kabataan Federation President, Cebu City Councilor Jessica Resch said: “It is sad to note that the National Solid Waste Management Commission has failed to perform these mandates for the past 20 years. This gross omission and negligence automatically suspended the enforcement of the prohibition on the manufacture, distribution or use of non-environmentally acceptable packaging materials, and the importation of consumer products packaged in non-environmentally acceptable materials under Section 48 (10) and (11) of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.”

Notices to sue were served on June 15, 2021 to the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) and 14 of its members, including Environment secretary Roy A. Cimatu, Trade secretary Ramon M. Lopez, Science and Technology secretary Fortunato dela Pe?a, Health secretary Francisco Duque III, Public Works secretary Mark S. Villar, Agriculture secretary William Dar, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority CEO Benjamin Abalos Jr., among others.

On their own, LGUs are carrying out city and municipal regulations to deal with solid waste, particularly single-use plastic. Ormoc City councilor Lalaine Marcos and Libmanan (Camarines Sur) councilor Bibby Jimenez have similarly done pioneering efforts to address waste pollution in their areas.  “But any effort of the LGUs will be limited without the mandate from the national government, particularly the DENR and the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC),” added Ramos.

“RA 9003 already provides the necessary legal framework and institutional mechanisms to achieve waste reduction by requiring the issuance and subsequent prohibition of non-environmentally acceptable products or packaging, yet the national government agencies have done nothing about this over the past 20 years. This prompted 83 local government units’ law making body or their Sanggunian to adopt resolution calling on the NSWMC to the issue list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging, and to ban single-use plastic,” the Oceana official said.

Oceana is an international advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the world’s oceans. Since 2014, Oceana has been working closely with national and local government agencies, civil society, fisherfolk and other stakeholders to restore abundance of Philippine fisheries and marine resources.

For more information, contact:Joyce SierraCommunications Manager, Oceana Mobile: 09178214430 E-mail: jsierra@oceana.orgFacebook: www.facebook.com/oceana.philippinesTwitter: @oceana_ph Instagram: @oceana_ph