Statement on President Rodrigo Duterte's SONA 2021 - Oceana Philippines
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Statement on President Rodrigo Duterte’s SONA 2021

Press Release Date: July 28, 2021

As President Duterte enthusiastically enumerated his administration’s achievements in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 26, he chose to omit the government’s action to reduce and stop marine pollution which is a grave threat to the health of humans, animals and our ocean.

We take exception to the president’s justifications on his administration’s ‘band-aid’ efforts to beautify Manila Bay. The recent footage of this reclamation project shows that dumping crushed dolomite is adding to our pollution woes and will not cover up one of the root causes of our problems in Manila Bay. Continuing erosive action of the waves, not to mention the sea level rise and storm surges, the regular occurrence of the southwest monsoon, and other weather disturbances will necessitate a never-ending job of touching up of this artificial white beach which blatantly disregarded requirements of various environmental laws including the Environmental Impact Assessment System Act. The millions of pesos being spent on that small portion of Manila Bay are better be used to address the more pressing concerns of the Filipinos, which are deepening poverty and unemployment, climate crisis and COVID-19 and their dire impacts on our well-being.

It is regretful that while the children prayed for guidance for government officials to work for the environment during the opening prayer at the SONA, the president failed to address this serious concern. We want to see the current administration prioritize its mandate to protect the source of our life – our biodiversity, our ocean, and the natural world.

No amount of infrastructure spending will benefit the people and the economy if constant flooding, clogged drainage and siltation will stop the movement of people and goods at the slightest amount of rain. We have seen this happen more frequently as scientists have so predicted because of climate change.  Will we just wait for that perfect storm to happen? Local government units and the stakeholders have identified one of the main culprits of this problem, and that is plastic. The government agencies tasked by law to impose ban and regulate non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging including single-use plastic remain ineffectual up to this day.

It is for this reason that concerned citizens, local governments and civil society organizations including Oceana are taking action to press the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) to perform its two-decade old mandate of banning non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging which necessarily includes single-use plastic and implement RA 9003, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 to address ballooning problem of marine plastic pollution.

Coming from various provinces in the country, the stakeholders— including the youth and children, fisherfolk, NGOs and divers – also decided to initiate the first step for holding the government agency and its officials accountable for what they consider as “apathy to the heavy burden of mounting plastic pollution” that has inundated the country’s waters.

Notices to sue were served last month to the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), and 13 public sector 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.

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.org Facebook: www.facebook.com/oceana.philippinesTwitter: @oceana_ph Instagram: @oceana_ph