Quezon City, 29 January 2019—As National Zero Waste Month draws to a close, thousands of individuals from different environment, religious, and other civil society groups marched today around the Quezon City Elliptical Circle to demand the responsible government agencies to protect our right to clean air and healthy ecology, and to register the groups’ dissent on the pending bills on Senate promoting waste incineration.
The Walk for Clean Air called on the government officials and lawmakers to uphold the ban on waste incineration enshrined in the Clean Air Act (RA 8749) and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003). The groups were reacting to recent policies and positions of the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Energy, Public Works and Highways, and Science and Technology, which contravene the ban. The peaceful walk was held as the Philippine Senate sets public hearings on House Bill 6893 and Senate Bills 2076 and 506, which all seek to repeal the ban and facilitate the entry of waste incineration into the country. The groups contend that waste incineration is an unsustainable system for managing waste and resources, negatively impacting people’s health and livelihoods, the environment and climate, and the economy.
Waste picker and community member Joan Amitan of Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Mamamayan ng Longos (NLML) said that building waste incineration facilities will paralyze their families’ income. “Sumasali po kami sa martsang ito para tutulan ang pagpapatayo ng mga mapaminsalang waste incinerators. Maliban sa mga panganib na maaari nitong maging sanhi sa aming komunidad at sa aming pang-araw araw na ikinabubuhay, binabalewala rin nito ang aming kontribusyon sa epektibong pagpapatupad ng segregation ng mga basura,” said Amitan of NLML.
Aside from the threats to the livelihood of the people, communities who marched during the said activity reiterated the threats of putting up waste incinerators to our climate and to the health of the people.
“Typhoons and other human-induced disasters have been devastating our country ever since time immemorial. By putting up waste incinerators, we are just intensifying our vulnerability by adding more harmful pollution in the environment,” said No Burn Pilipinas Campaign Manager Glenn Ymata.
No Burn Pilipinas said that by strengthening the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, our government can lead us to an environmental and sustainable approach in managing our wastes.
“The leaders of our government are not just expected to make promises to their constituents. It is part of their mandate to implement and execute the laws enshrined in our constitution and it is about time they give importance to the only thing that is left free for the people—the air we breathe,” Ymata added.
Ymata also called out government officials who have pending waste incineration proposals in their areas. “Despite the presence of the provisions that prohibit waste incineration in RA 9003 and RA 8749, these local unit leaders still have the guts to propose putting up such harmful facilities. This is nothing but a disservice to their people and a clear violation of the law,” he said.
Waste-to-energy incineration has already been proposed in Manila and Iloilo. Recent proposals also surfaced in Baguio, Quezon City, Puerto Princesa in Palawan, Cebu City, and in Davao City. No Burn Pilipinas note that these proposals are illegal and that government officials should not be encouraging the violation of national laws.
Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition said it is “zero waste or zero votes.” Lucero mentioned that if leaders running for the congress seats still refuse to adopt zero waste approaches for their areas, said groups will aggressively call for zero votes for them for the upcoming national elections.
“We are calling on the senators, especially Senate President Tito Sotto, to read up on our laws and reject all policy proposals and amendments that will violate our current laws protecting the clean air including his bill to overturn the incineration ban. These bills are business proposals for harmful facilities, and are not alternative solutions that protect the interests of the Filipino people,” Ymata concluded.
No Burn Pilipinas is an alliance of civil society groups who are advocating Zero Waste technologies and are calling on the government to uphold the ban on waste incineration. The vision of No Burn Pilipinas is a Philippines free of waste incineration and pursuing the Zero Waste approach, and where the linear economy has been replaced by a sustainable and just circular model. The vision ensures that the health and well-being of communities are safeguarded and the environment protected.
Glenn Ymata, 0917 837 7625: Senior Program Officer
Zaira Baniaga, 0939 707 1589: Media Liason