Concerned conservation and environmental watchdogs are going to sue the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) for “gross and persistent negligence” for failing to drawi up a list of non-environmentally acceptable products in line with the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (Republic Act 9003).
According to Oceana Philippines, this inaction on the part of the DENR adjunct has resulted in the proliferation of huge amounts of non-environmentally acceptable products which have contributed to the degradation of the environment, such as single-use plastics required for the marketing of popular consumer goods churned out by huge corporations like Colgate Philippines, Nestle and Universal Robina Corporation, to name a few.
Under R.A. 9003, complainant Oceana said the NSWMC, which is an adjunct of the Office of the President, is obliged to prepare a list of non-environmentally acceptable products one year after the law’s effectivity and to update this list annually; and also determine a period to phase out these products.
“Since R.A. 9003 became effective in 2001, the commission has taken 20 years – an entire generation – before it could even identify a grand total of TWO inconsequential products, in a resolution replete with deficiencies,” Oceana said.
Last February, after hibernating for two decades, the NSWMC finally approved the first non-environmentally acceptable products to be phased out: soft drink straws and plastic coffee stirrers.
But according to the University of the Philippines Law Center, this is merely a figment of the imagination as no such resolution has been filed.
According to a damning 2015 study by the NGO Ocean Conservancy, the Philippines is one of the worst plastics products polluters in the world.
It reportedly produces an estimated 2.7 million tons of plastic waste yearly, thus making it the third biggest marine plastic polluter in the world.
“It is shameful that their eyes seem to be blindfolded to the harmful impact of single-use plastics (such as the ones favored by most big corporations in the Philippines),” Oceana said.
Oceana’s planned legal action dovetails with a House resolution recently filed by Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda calling for the NSWMC to account for its inactivity on RA 9003. She was the principal author of said law while still a senator.
Legarda said the NSWMC “unjustifiably failed” in implementing RA 9003 despite the P1.3-billion budget it was given in 2016 and 2017, which is why its officials should now give an accounting of what they did with the allotted monies.
Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler