By Mario B Casayuran
Senator Cynthia A. Villar has underscored the pressing need to end the prevalent problem of plastic pollution in the country.
Viilar said the unsystematic disposal and leakages of plastic materials pose a worsening threat to the wildlife and marine resources of the Philippines.
As chairwoman of the Senate environment and natural resources committee, Villar rallied for expanded national efforts to dramatically reduce, if not totally stop, plastic use as an initial solution to end plastic waste pollution throughout the country, especially in urban areas where plastic products are regularly used as packaging materials.
‘‘The use of plastic products over the years has taken its grim toll on our natural resources. Our marine waters are choking from plastic wastes that have been dumped into our waters. We are ranked third next to China and Indonesia in terms of estimated volume of mismanaged plastic wastes produced by the population that could potentially enter the seas and oceans,’’ Villar said.
She acknowledged that the campaign against plastic consumption has been moving slowly because both manufacturers and users continue to be unmindful of the environmental, climate and health impacts of plastic use.
Villar made the remarks during the celebration of Earth Day 2018 and the 11th Anniversary of the establishment of the 175-hectare Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park as the last coastal frontier of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. The twin celebrations were held at the Las-Piñas Parañaque Wetland Park.
Villar stressed that the government needs to take bolder and more innovative measures to control the entry of plastic wastes into our waters, which are destroying our marine natural resources and the habitats of resident and migratory wild birds.
An environment advocate, Villar said research findings indicate that the Philippines is included among countries with the most number of plastic wastes being dumped into the seas.
The lady legislator expressed hops that government and environmental groups would sustain their ongoing campaigns to stop plastic waste leakages.
Villar and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-National Capital Region (DENR-NCR) has partnered to celebrate this year’s Earth Day, which has “End Plastic Pollution” as its theme, aptly timed to generate government and public interest in further protecting the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park, a nature reserve with mangroves, ponds and lagoons, mudflats, salt marshes, and mixed beach forest.
The partnership, likewise, celebrated the 11th year since Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park was established through Presidential Decree 1412 as the first critical habitat in the country.
It was also recognized as a wetland of international importance by the Ramsar Convention in 2013. The Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park consists of 2 islands — Freedom Island and Long Island, which have been the favorite resting and refueling stops for migratory birds using the East Asian-Australasian Migratory Flyway. It hosts 41 species of migratory birds, with some coming from as far as China, Japan anf Siberia. Additionally, it has 114 hectares of mudflats which serve as feeding grounds for wild birds.
Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park also has more than 36 hectares of mangrove forest, the thickest and most diverse among the remaining mangroves within Manila Bay. It also has salt marshes, which play an important role in determining the health of a coastal area.
Villar and the DENR joined Greenpeace Philippines and organized a photo exhibit, entitled “Plastic Pollution: Threats and Solutions,” which focused the klieglights on the issue of plastic pollution and its impact on resident and migratory wild birds that frequent Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park.
The exhibit also showcased an installation art that recreated the layers of trash within the beaches of Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park to emphasize the magnitude of the plastic pollution in Manila Bay.
The exhibit likewise featured creative solutions to reduce and recycle plastic pollutants. Groups like the Cavitex, Villar SIPAG Foundation and Polystyrene Packaging Council of the Philippines displayed products derived from recycled plastic; while the Holy Spirit Entrepreneurs, Diega’s Group and Human Heart Nature showed and sold products made out of various wastes, including plastics and eco-friendly products. A participative mural was also on display, where volunteers can paint the unfinished part of the design as a pledge to reduce the use of plastics in their lifestyle.
At the end of the event, a coastal clean up at the coasts of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park, where most garbages are accumulated, was also carried out with the participation of representatives from the Local Government Units (LGUs) of Las Piñas City and Parañaque City, Department of Public Works and Highways-National Capital Region (DPWH-NCR), and the Metro Manila Development Authority.