By Chito Chavez
Environmental group EcoWaste Coalition called on all Filipinos to “raise the flag’’ and make a strong and collective stance against the entry of illegal garbage from overseas in the country.
The call was made amid the spate of the illegal waste shipments intercepted by customs authorities which has virtually turned the Philippines into the favorite dumping ground of garbage by other countries.
EcoWaste Coalition pushed for the call as the country marks the National Flag Day on Tuesday, May 28.
From May 28 to June 12, as per Executive Order 179, Series of 1994, Filipinos are encouraged to display the flag to memorialize the first time the national emblem was unfurled at a battle in Alapan, Imus Cavite in 1898.
“We find it very timely and necessary that we, as one people, take a united stance against the onslaught of foreign garbage that seems to be invading our shores,” stated Eileen Sison, President, EcoWaste Coalition.
“From mixed plastic wastes from Canada, South Korea and Hong Kong to mixed residual wastes processed into fuel from Australia, our country has fallen victim to this insidious global waste trade due to weak import controls and outdated regulations,” she pointed out.
Sison said the group feared “the worst has yet to come until our nation makes a strong unified position against the entry of wastes into our ports under the cover of recycling or outright disposal”.
“To make it crystal clear to everyone that our country is not a global trash bin, we invite our citizens to display our flag with pride during the flag days,” she insisted.
As this gesture would obviously not be enough to ward off illegal waste traffickers and their cohorts, the EcoWaste Coalition rightly urged the authorities to consider these two measures：
First, for the government to adopt a comprehensive and immediate ban on all waste imports and to impose heavy penalties against violators.
Second, for the government to ensure fast ratification of the Basel Ban Amendment for concurrence by the Senate.
This amendment to the Basel Convention, an international treaty, prohibits the export of hazardous wastes and other wastes from developed to developing countries for any reason, including recycling, the EcoWaste Coalition explained.
“The swift adoption of these measures will formalize the verbal announcement made by President Rodrigo Duterte last May 6 barring waste imports,” Sison said.
Duterte issued the oral directive in light of the inordinate delay in the re-export of 69 container vans of Canadian garbage, which form part of the garbage-filled 103 containers that entered Manila port from Vancouver port from 2013 to 2014.
“The President is firm that we are not garbage collectors, thus he ordered that the Philippines will no longer accept any waste from any country,” announced Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo at a press briefing.
The Quezon City based group said that from May 28 to June 12, encouraged the Filipino people to “show our flag and tell the world we are not their dumpsite”.